German car manufacturer Volkswagen has poached Klaus Kocks, director of
corporate communications for Germany’s largest gas supplier Ruhrgas, as
its first director of corporate communications.
Kocks, who was appointed to Volkswagen’s management board at the end of
April, takes up his new post on 1 July.
He had been due to join Cologne-based insurer Gerling (PR Week, 16
February), but it is understood that Volkswagen’s chief executive
Ferdinand Piech personally intervened to recruit Kocks.
Based at Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg near Hanover, Kocks will
build a new communications division out of the company’s existing press
and PR department. The division will enjoy similar status to
Volkswagen’s six existing divisions - controlling and accounting, sales
and marketing, human resources, production and optimisation, research
and development and group strategy.
A Volkswagen spokesman declined to give details about the
communications division’s staffing and responsibilities until Kocks’
arrival next month, but admitted that the appointment was part of
Volkswagen’s PR strategy to combat attacks by arch rival General Motors.
Volkswagen has been embroiled in a legal wrangle with the US car giant
and its German unit Adam Opel for the last three years amid allegations
of industrial spying. General Motors claims that its former procurement
manager Jose Ignacio Lopez took secret documents with him when he joined
VW in 1993.
Press and publicity for Volkswagen was previously the responsibility of
Otto Wachs, now the company’s representative for the Expo 2000 world
fair in Hanover.