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Ford lures new marketing chief from Toyota
Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce as early as today that James D. Farley, group vice president of Toyota Motor Co.'s Lexus Division, will be Ford's first chief marketing and communications officer.

The move would be a signature appointment by CEO Alan Mulally, who has openly criticized Ford's marketing efforts and signaled his desire to install top marketing talent at the Glass House. Farley's arrival also would be the second high-profile defection from vaunted Toyota to a Detroit automaker, suggesting that highly regarded industry pros see opportunity in their beleaguered rivals.

"Farley is their superstar," a source familiar with the situation told me today, adding that Ford has been talking with Farley off and on for a year. "It's a done deal. This is a good move for us. This is the guy we wanted. He has an engineering background."

Farley's appointment is expected to be approved today by Ford's directors. As the first head of global marketing and communications for Ford, he would assume what is arguably the industry's most monumental marketing challenge. Ford has foundered amid weak campaigns, discarded and then revived brand names like Taurus, poor product definition and plunging market share.

Under Mulally, an aerospace engineer and 37-year veteran of Boeing Co. before arriving at Ford last fall, key marketing decisions -- such as reviving the Taurus model name -- have been pushed by him, a engineer-cum-CEO who understands his limitations in the marketing world.

It's hard to overstate the symbolism of Farley's appointment by Ford. That a rising Toyota star, the head of Lexus and a founder of its Scion youth brand would bolt the Japanese juggernaut for the struggling Blue Oval is a testament to Mulally's leadership, the strength of Ford's current lineup, the promise of its future products and the upside in it all.

And unlike Chrysler LLC, which could use the opaque world of private equity to woo Farley's old boss, Jim Press, from Toyota North America to Auburn Hills, Ford is doing so in the more transparent world of public companies. More at Detroit News

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