Longtime Mercedes-Benz USA marketing boss Drew Slaven departs
ATLANTA — Mercedes-Benz USA’s longtime marketing boss and onetime interim CEO Drew Slaven has left the company.
In a memo to the brand’s dealers reviewed by Automotive News, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dimitris Psillakis said the chief marketing officer had decided to retire.
“After some extensive thought and in consultation with his family and colleagues at MBUSA, [Slaven] has made the decision to retire,” Psillakis said in the memo, dated Jan. 31. “We will inform you about our succession plans in due time.”
A source briefed on the matter told Automotive News that Slaven, one of the more tenured company officers, had been at “loggerheads” with leadership. Slaven did not attend Mercedes’ make meeting at the NADA show last month.
Slaven, 56, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment through his LinkedIn account.
Whether Slaven walked or was nudged, it’s unlikely the marketing executive is finished with Madison Avenue.
A company source told Automotive News that Slaven has another job lined up but declined to discuss the details.
Slaven joined Mercedes-Benz USA in 2002 as department manager of national advertising and brand strategy. During his tenure, Slaven held roles in brand experience marketing, CRM (customer relationship management) marketing, digital and other functions.
Notably, Slaven handled the financial and legal negotiations in buying the naming rights to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the Atlanta Falcons NFL franchise. In the memo, Psillakis referred to the deal as the “company’s largest-ever marketing endeavor.”
The loss of Slaven’s institutional knowledge is a blow to Mercedes, said a West Coast dealer, who requested he not be identified.
“He was loyal to Mercedes first and foremost, but also a genuine guy you could talk to,” the dealer said. “He cared about dealers and was transparent.”
Slaven is the latest in a series of high-level executive U.S. departures in recent years. Mercedes’ U.S. business is on its second new CEO since 2019. Psillakis took over in 2021 from Nicholas Speeks, who left the company after less than a year in the top job.
Slaven himself briefly served as Mercedes-Benz USA’s interim CEO when Speeks abruptly went on a leave of absence in 2020.
MBUSA has also seen turnover in other leadership roles, including sales, finance and customer service.
“Mercedes-Benz has lost a lot of tribal knowledge,” the dealer said. “There’s been considerable losses, even at lower level management, who are strong people that are great for the brand.”
According to his LinkedIn profile, Slaven has served as Mercedes’ U.S. CMO since 2014 and managed a $500 million annual budget.
In recent years, the exec helped orchestrate a plan to give retailers more control over managing regional marketing funds and executing their digital sales efforts.
Slaven was “extremely creative with the marketing portfolio,” the dealer said. “He worked in all those areas that are so important from a brand awareness point of view.”
Slaven’s marketing career began as a media planner with DDB Needham Advertising developing media strategies for GTE and American Airlines.
Two years later, he moved to McCann-Erickson, overseeing the advertising of Johnson & Johnson and the Italian candy company Ferrero.
Before joining Mercedes in 2002, Slaven was manager of mass communications at J.P. Morgan Chase, responsible for consumer advertising for Chase Bank.
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