Though Internet marketing has lost much of its sparkle, it continues to play an important role in the auto industry.|
A panel on “Real and Virtual Sales and Marketing in the Franchise System” will address strategies of e-commerce at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit on Jan. 15. Panelists include Phil Brady, president of the National Automobile Dealers Association; Devon Cohen, CEO of FordDirect; and Steven Center, assistant vice president of the e-business division for American Honda Motor Co. Inc.
Brady directs more than 400 NADA employees in the areas of government relations, dealership operations, and industry and dealer relations. NADA represents the interests of more than 19,400 dealers holding nearly 40,000 franchises.
Brady will bring a wealth of knowledge from NADA’s studies on Internet usage. He directed the NADA’s industry analysis and industry relations departments before being appointed the association’s president in June 2001.
Ford Motor Co. hired Cohen in March as CEO of FordDirect, a shopping site owned by Ford and its dealers. Cohen had been group vice president, automotive, at TradeOut, the business-to-business sister company of eBay. Cohen created an automotive business model that sold more than $3.6 million in its first three months of operation.
In 1990, as a senior vice president at Marine Midland Automotive Finance, Cohen helped create Primus, now Ford Credit’s financial arm for Jaguar, Mazda and other brands.
Cohen and two partners created Remarketing Services of America in 1991 and struggled to keep the company afloat. It grew into a $25 million enterprise and was acquired by Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp. in 1996.
Honda’s Center was appointed vice president of the e-business division in November 2000.
Before that, Center was senior manager of market support in the car sales division. He helped to create the Honda Certified Used Car Brand, under which all used cars are held to the same standard and backed by a factory warranty.
In 1993, as manager for custom marketing of auto sales, Center was part of a team that developed the Honda Corporate Customer Database. The database is used to target households to monitor changing lifestyles and life stages of consumers.
Also on the panel are Karen Francis, president of Ford’s ConsumerConnect, and Mark Hogan, General Motors’ vice president of e-GM.