Tuesday, Mazda announced announced several leadership changes to its North American Operations. The current CEO and President of Mazda North American Operations (MNAO), Masahiro Moro, will be assuming the position of MNAO’s Chairman and CEO come April.
To fill the void in MNAO presidency, Jeffrey Guyton, the current President and CEO of the company’s European branch, is being brought in to oversee business in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Masashi Otsuka will assist him as Senior Vice President, who will be in charge of Mazda’s new crossover SUV production plant in Alabama. As for Otsuka, in April he will be replaced by Masaki Ueno, who is the current General Manager of Mazda’s Vehicle Testing and Research Department in Hiroshima. Ueno will then be Vice President of Research and Development and Design, working under Guyton.
“As Mazda moves forward with its next-generation product, the company has made global leadership changes to further its path toward premium,” said Akira Marumoto, President and CEO of Mazda Motor Corporation, based in Hiroshima, Japan. “Mazda is a global business and both North America and Europe are vital to its continued growth. Masahiro has been a tremendous leader in the U.S., and we are pleased to expand his role.”
These leadership changes may be part of Mazda’s overall new direction for it’s North American Operations. A year ago the company rolled out a new fan-centric brand initiative. “Mazda is a brand on the move,” said Chief Marketing Officer Dino Bernacchi at the time. “‘Expect us to continue to rolling-out new partnerships, fan-first programs and products that make you feel alive!” “Feel Alive” is the new brand slogan. They launched the campaign last April in a TV ad spot during the NCAA Championship game. “Mazda has always engineered to a feeling. We want to build an emotional connection with our fans by making them feel something profound,” said Bernacchi. “‘Feel Alive’ will be a celebration of human challenge, inspiration, exhilaration and potential.”
As mentioned, the new direction puts Mazda fans front and center, with the company working hard to increase its social presence. This has paved the way for some innovative partnerships, such as integrating their user experience with Amazon. Said Bernacchi regarding the cooperation between the two, “Amazon is consumer-focused, data-driven and very well-aligned with our new brand platform. We have a vocal and growing community of Mazda fans and owners on Amazon and we want to support that community with the same energy and attention we give to our other social communities like Facebook and Youtube.”
These changes reflect the changing clientele now purchasing vehicles. Today’s buyer is generally more connected and “plugged-into” not only the physical experience of driving but the social aspects of car-ownership. Additionally, with the rise of internet commerce, the way most shoppers interact with products is evolving. Mazda is sending a clear message that they are aware of the trends and are meeting them head-on.