Toyota names comms director for Argentina

Japanese car giant Toyota has poached Maria Paz Rodriguez Picaro to head its newly created public and media relations department in Buenos Aires.

As public and media relations director, Rodriguez will lead a 3-strong department reporting to corporate planning director for the Mercosur area, Anibal Borderes.

Borderes handles Toyota's corporate strategy, PR and communications for the Mercosur trading block, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Veneuzuela, as well as Chile and Bolivia as associate members.

Rodriguez's team comprises Sebastian Prado, Federico Centeno and Jimena Ierbolino, who work on institutional/events organisation, media relations and events, and media relations respectively.  Rodriguez hopes to hire someone to handle internal relations, currently handled by human resources, in coming months.

Rodriguez will work to boost Toyota's profile and field press queries about
the company. She will also promote car launches, two of which are planned to take place this year. 

Prior to joining Toyota, Rodriguez was public and media relations director for Brasilian cement major Camargo Correa in Argentina.  She was approached by Toyota while on maternity leave last summer, and takes up her duties this week.

Rodriguez's appointment comes at a time of expansion at Toyota. The company will launch numerous marketing initiatives this year to sell 65,000 cars, up from
just over 40,000 in 2005, Rodriguez said.

Argentina is Toyota's first market in South America where it competes head-to-head with archrival Volkswagen.  As well as it's in-house team, it uses the Buenos Aires-based PR shop Cicmas Strategic group for comms support.

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