Last week’s announcement by Opel to appoint Tina Müller as Chief Marketing Officer is special in significance, as it not only creates the role of CMO at Opel, but also splits responsibility for marketing and sales at GM’s German subsidiary
The move refocuses Duncan Aldred, who previously headed up Opel marketing and sales, on solely the role of sales, while allowing Ms. Müller to concentrate on building the Opel brand.
“We’ll be giving the brand back the gloss that it deserves,” said Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann.
The adjustment comes as General Motors begins to turn around Opel, which has been unprofitable for over a decade, with dropping sales and a tarnished image. In recent months, the subsidiary has replaced nearly all of its executives and has set out to break even or turn a profit by mid-decade. To that end, Opel’s problems are really two-fold: its costs of doing business are too high, but its sales volume too low.
The operating unit is addressing high costs by closing at least one manufacturing plant in Europe (the facility in Bochum, Germany), while partnering with French automaker PSA Peugeot-Citroen to realize greater economies of scale in purchasing, logistics, and (in some vehicle segments) product development. Opel’s low sales volume, however, is the result of image-related problems for the brand as well as a faltering European economy that has depressed consumer confidence and buying levels, culminating in low automobile sales across the industry — something that isn’t unique to Opel itself.
Ms. Müller, who most recently was in charge of marketing for the consumer-goods firm Henkel & Co., is set to start in her new role on August 1. And that, as far as we’re concerned, can’t come soon enough — as Opel needs all the love it can get.