AUBURN HILLS, MI: Jason Vines, the former head of PR at Ford, has been selected to take over the helm of Chrysler's PR operations.
Vines, who most recently had been running the Stratacomm office in Detroit, is becoming VP of communications for the Chrysler Group of Daimler-Chrysler. He'll report to Chrysler president and CEO Dieter Zetsche, a Daimler veteran who has been given the task of turning Chrysler around.
Ken Levy, who had held that position the past three years, is leaving to start his own PR shop in New York.
"I got the chance to be in a very exciting situation again," said Vines, who had worked at Chrysler earlier in his career.
The automaker has committed to put $35 million more in its PR budget this year than it spent in 2003 to support new-model introductions, Vines added.
Chrysler has been in the media spotlight in recent weeks because of a trial involving millionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, who alleges the company misled investors about the details of the DaimlerChrysler union in 1998.
The company's Dodge division also recently made a PR gaffe by agreeing to sponsor the Lingerie Bowl, a Super Bowl-related cable-television event that will feature scantily-clad women playing football, and then deciding to pull out after dealer complaints.
Chrysler also lost US market share in 2003, a year that involved heavy buyer incentives from all the major automakers.