Chrysler Taps Lexus Exec

DETROIT Chrysler has tapped Lexus vp, marketing Deborah Wahl Meyer as vp, CMO, the automaker said.

Meyer will report to Steven Landry, evp of North American sales and marketing, per sources. She replaces George Murphy, svp, global brand management since 2001, who was let go in May.

That move came shortly after Cerberus Capital Management sealed the deal to purchase 80 percent of Chrysler. The agreement was finalized this month.

A Lexus representative today said that Meyer has left the company to pursue other opportunities, but declined further comment.

Chrysler (including Dodge and Jeep) spent $1.4 billion in U.S. measured media in 2006 and almost $500 million through May 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. The Chrysler nameplate alone received $500 million in ad support last year and about $150 million through the first five months of this year. Chrysler’s lead agency is BBDO in Detroit.

Lexus spent close to $300 million last year on ads, per Nielsen.

A Wharton graduate, Meyer has been a strong presence at Lexus since being named vp of marketing in March 2005. When she arrived, she promised there would be no agency change, from Team One, and she kept her word. At the time her hiring at Lexus was announced, she called it a “dream job.”

During her tenure, Lexus has forged marketing alliances with all the right upscale properties, from Paul McCartney, who licensed a song for the brand in 2005, to Neiman Marcus, which exclusively featured a limited edition 2007 Lexus GS 450h hybrid in its Christmas catalog.

Meyer has most recently been working on long-term strategy at Lexus, which is up 5.4 percent in sales through July. Before coming to Lexus, she was corporate manager of marketing communications at Toyota, handling marketing and advertising.

Before arriving at Toyota in 2001, Meyer was with Lincoln-Mercury and Mazda developing brand and marketing strategies. She also worked for Mazda as group manager of brand strategy and communications.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with Chrysler’s confirmation of Meyer’s hire.