C.J. O'Donnell

Ford is getting more serious about meeting its hybrid and electric vehicle sales targets with the transition of C.J. O'Donnell, former Lincoln group marketing manager. O'Donnell played a leading role in reinventing the Lincoln division following the demise of the Mercury brand in early 2011, and rolling out the redesigned 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan that arrives at dealerships in November. O'Donnell will oversee marketing for the Ford C-Max Hybrid, which just went on sale and precedes the upcoming C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid, the 2013 Fusion Hybrid and the upcoming Fusion Energi.

Previously, Ford has taken a cautious approach with its hybrid and electric products. If you look at September 2012 numbers, 2,788 new vehicles were sold in these categories, with the C-Max Hybrid already taking the lead. Sales of the Ford Focus Electric continued to be low, with just 59 units sold for that month. Ford has been taking on Toyota in ads and corporate communications, but its sales numbers are only around 10 percent of what Toyota has been seeing, primarily through its popular Prius lineup.

O'Donnell has a long history with sales, marketing and product development duties, having worked at Ford, Mazda, Lincoln, Mercury and Jaguar. In his new position, he's replacing Wesley Liu, who moved on to become general manager of sales in China. O'Donnell will play a role in the multimedia ad campaign for the C-Max Hybrid featuring a blue background with white-line silhouettes of the C-Max and its archrival, the Toyota Prius.
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C.J. O'Donnell: Ford's New Group Marketing Manager for Electrification Knows How to Finish Races – and Start Them

Background

C.J. O'Donnell knows what it takes to run a full race and finish strong, but he also knows the importance of starting the right way.

That's good, because as Group Electrification Marketing manager for Ford Motor Company – launching five new electrified vehicles this year – knowing how to properly begin a race couldn't be any more important than it is right now.

"Through our new electrified vehicles, Ford is establishing a foundation for the future," says O'Donnell. "What we do now will have a tremendous effect on the success of vehicles such as C-MAX Hybrid, along with Ford Motor Company and the entire industry. It's very exciting to be in this position."

O'Donnell was named to the position last month, and brings an impressive track record of experience largely centered on launching innovative new products and building broad market awareness and acceptance of new products.

By the end of 2012, Ford Motor Company will sell six electrified vehicles in North America: Focus Electric, C-MAX Hybrid, C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, Fusion Hybrid, Fusion Energi plug- in hybrid and Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.

O'Donnell oversees the day-to-day marketing activity related to the electrified vehicles that will be in the Ford brand lineup by the end of 2012.

"I've had a lot of experience launching new products and establishing new nameplates in the market," says O'Donnell. "This is a fresh start. We've been given a blank piece of paper with the objective of establishing Ford's range of electrified products. I really like that challenge; it will draw on the imagination of everyone on this team."

O'Donnell's résumé consists of several sales, marketing and product development roles with Ford, Mazda, Lincoln and Mercury. O'Donnell served two years as Executive Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Jaguar North America and later held the position of Global Marketing Manager for Jaguar Cars Ltd. in Great Britain, where he helped hone Jaguar's DNA by supporting launch of the XF sports sedan and XJ full-size sedan.

Most recently, O'Donnell served as Lincoln Group Marketing manager.

"If it's new, growth-oriented, or needs a new strategic direction, regardless of the brand or product, I seem to end up in the middle of it," says O'Donnell. "That is perfectly fine because I thrive on that."

His life and passion
  • A West Hazleton, Pa. native, O'Donnell graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics from Villanova University and an MBA in marketing from Columbia Business School
  • O'Donnell, 49, lives in Birmingham, Mich. with his wife, Mary and their three children: Sean, 20; Erin, 18; Brian, 17
  • O'Donnell enjoys traveling with his family, which has lived on three continents
  • An avid runner, O'Donnell has completed two Marine Corp. marathons and can be seen at races in southeast Michigan on most weekends
  • O'Donnell is an accomplished open-wheel and sports car racer with Sports Car Club of America and recently competed in the Mille Miglia among other historic racing events