General Motors Co has created the new position of global brand chief for Cadillac as the U.S. automaker looks to broaden global demand for the luxury line of vehicles.
Robert Ferguson, who assumes the position immediately, will lead Cadillac's worldwide growth and development, and report directly to Chief Executive Dan Akerson. GM has designated Cadillac and Chevrolet as its two global brands.
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Ferguson, 53, will be responsible for marketing, brand management and advertising for Cadillac in markets around the world. Responsibility for sales is also expected to shift to Ferguson at the start of 2013, GM said on Tuesday.
"The opportunity to strengthen and grow Cadillac is ours for the taking," Ferguson said in a statement.
Ferguson's new job comes at a time when GM's luxury brand is planning its most extensive round of product launches and upgrades in its history, including the new ATS small luxury sedan.
Cadillac executives said the brand should be challenging foreign automakers for the top spot in U.S. luxury auto sales in a few years, a position it had not held in 15 years.
Akerson said in April that he would like Cadillac sales in China, a key growth market for the brand, to match U.S. levels by 2015 or 2016. GM's Cadillac sales in China topped 30,000 vehicles last year, while U.S. sales were about 153,000.
"Successful global automotive companies must have a major global luxury brand that competes around the world and wins around the world and in China," Akerson said at the Beijing auto show in April. "Our mission for Cadillac is to make it part of our global brand strategy and we have plans to grow Cadillac's presence around the world."
GM also said on Tuesday that U.S. vice president for Cadillac marketing Don Butler and U.S. vice president for Cadillac sales and service Chase Hawkins will report to Ferguson.
Ferguson, who joined GM in 2010, had been vice president for global public policy, providing a voice for the company in Washington and with its many regulatory agencies on such topics as energy, taxes, labor and finance.
Prior to joining GM, Ferguson was a senior strategist at communications firm Public Strategies, where he worked with international clients including the International Olympic Committee leading up to and during the 2008 Beijing Games. Before that, Ferguson spent 10 years as an executive at AT&T.
Ferguson's previous responsibilities in Washington will be assumed by Selim Bingol, who will also retain his current communications role and will become vice president, global communications and public policy. Bingol, 52, joined GM in 2010.
(Reporting By Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)