Mercedes-Benz USA has tapped former Cadillac marketer Melody Lee as CMO, according to a press release shared with Marketing Dive. The executive steps into the role following the retirement of Drew Slaven in February. Slaven served as Mercedes’ marketing chief for nearly a decade, a long run for the typically short-tenured C-suite position.
Lee will take over marketing duties for the luxury automaker, whose U.S. operations are based out of Atlanta, Georgia, starting July 1. Her hire is one of several executive appointments for the brand, which promoted Heike Scheuble to managing director of Mercedes-Benz Vans and Jee-Seop Kim as head of customer service. The news was shared around Mercedes' annual dealer meeting.
Before joining Mercedes, Lee served as senior vice president of global brand and product marketing at MillerKnoll, the owner of the Herman Miller and Knoll lines of home and office decor. She also previously helped lead brand development at cosmetics firm Shiseido, along with working at PR shops including Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Camron PR, according to her LinkedIn page.
Most relevant to Lee’s move to Mercedes are her six years at rival Cadillac. There, she overhauled the General Motors brand’s positioning and identity, including through a multi-pronged “Dare Greatly” campaign and overseeing the business’ transition from Detroit to New York. Lee also helped launch and lead Book by Cadillac, a luxury vehicle subscription service that was suspended in 2018, the year she departed the company.
Mercedes-Benz, like many automakers, is navigating the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and vying to win over the next generation of luxury consumers in Gen Z. At CES in January, the Germany-based company detailed plans to implement its own global charging network for EVs, with the goal to complete the North American leg of the project by 2027.
The firm in February struck partnerships with Google and TikTok to soup up its in-car experiences. E-Class sedans will start carrying TikTok this year, with the ability for both drivers and passengers to browse the short-form video app. The Google deal is focused on Maps, with Mercedes-Benz building a branded navigation experience by wedding its own data with the tech giant’s in a first-of-its-kind application for the auto category.