Ford lures Lexus chief away

James Farley, head of Toyota's luxury division, is leaving to head Ford marketing.

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- James Farley, group vice president and general manager of Toyota's Lexus luxury division, is leaving the company to join Ford as head of that company's marketing efforts around the world.

Farley will be filling a newly created post at Ford. He will report directly to Ford chief executive Alan Mulally.

James Farley

Before becoming head of Lexus, Farley had headed marketing for Toyota of America's main Toyota division. In that position, he was responsible for Toyota's American marketing, advertising and sales promotion.

He had also headed Toyota's Scion division, overseeing the launch of the trendy, youth-oriented car brand. He had been with Toyota for 17 years.

"Jim Farley is well known for innovative marketing strategies that connect great products to today's and tomorrow's customers," said Mulally in a Ford announcement. "Ford's quality and vehicles are now on par with the best of the competition. We look forward to Jim's leadership to combine world-class marketing with our world-class products worldwide."

Toyota, now the second largest car company in the U.S. market, by sales, has seen at least three top-level defections to Detroit car companies in recent weeks.

In August, Deborah Wahl Meyer, who had headed marketing for Lexus, left Toyota to join Chrysler as that company's chief marketing officer.

In early September, James Press, head of all Toyota's North American operations, went to Chrysler. He now shares the titles of vice chairman and president with former Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda.

"As our footprint continues to grow it comes as no surprise that our executives are courted by other companies," said Toyota spokesman Xavier Dominicis.

Ford recently announced the impending retirement of Francisco Codina, Ford's group vice president for North American marketing, sales and service. Codina had been with Ford for 30 years.

Ford, long the America's number two car company by sales, behind General Motors (Charts, Fortune 500) has recently ranked third behind Toyota. The company has struggled to lift retail sales as it cuts back on fleet sales.

In September, in the midst of an overall industry downturn, Ford sales were down 14 percent from the same month last year. Only General Motors saw its sales rise that month, however. Even Toyota saw a nearly 3 percent decline from the year prior.

At Toyota, Farley's former post as head of Lexus will be filled by Mark Templin, most recently head of the Scion division. Templin will be replaced at Scion by Jack Hollis who, as corporate manager of Scion, had been second-in-command to Templin. Top of page