Susanne Franz Takes Over as Global CMO of Volkswagen Brand


Volkswagen Group has announced a new appointment for the role of global chief marketing officer (CMO) of its flagship brand, Volkswagen. Susanne Franz, who has been leading the global marketing of Audi since 2019, will take over the position in mid-February 2023. She will be responsible for overseeing the marketing strategy and activities of Volkswagen passenger cars worldwide.


A New Challenge for Franz

Franz has a long and successful career in the automotive industry, having worked for several brands within the Volkswagen Group. She joined Audi in 2012 as head of international marketing communication and became global marketing director in 2019. Under her leadership, Audi launched several innovative campaigns, such as the e-tron GT concept car reveal with Robert Downey Jr., the Audi Intelligence Experience, and the Audi Quattro Coaster.

Franz will now face a new challenge as the global CMO of Volkswagen, the largest and most iconic brand of the group. She will be in charge of transforming the brand image and customer experience of Volkswagen, as well as driving its growth and profitability in a highly competitive and changing market. Franz will report to Imelda Labbé, a board member for sales, marketing, and after-sales at the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand.

A Key Role in the Brand Transformation

Franz’s appointment comes at a crucial time for Volkswagen, as the brand is undergoing a major transformation towards becoming a software-oriented mobility provider. Volkswagen aims to become the most sought-after volume brand globally and to lead the transition to electric and autonomous mobility. To achieve this, the brand is investing heavily in innovation, digitalization, and sustainability, as well as launching new products and services, such as the ID. family of electric vehicles, the We-Connect app, and the Volkswagen Autonomy subsidiary.

Franz will play a key role in communicating and implementing the brand vision and values, as well as enhancing the overall customer experience across all touchpoints. She will also work closely with the regional and local marketing teams to ensure a consistent and effective brand presence in all markets. Franz will leverage her extensive experience and expertise in brand marketing, especially in the areas of digital, data, and creativity, to help Volkswagen achieve its ambitious goals.

A Warm Welcome from the Brand Leadership

The Volkswagen brand leadership has expressed its confidence and enthusiasm for Franz’s appointment. Thomas Schäfer, CEO of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, said: “We are turning Volkswagen back into a love brand—approachable, customer-centric, and authentic. Our marketing plays a key role in this context. As the new Chief Marketing Officer, Susanne Franz, together with her team, will help turn Volkswagen back into a true people’s brand. I wish her every success!”

Imelda Labbé, the board member for sales, marketing, and after-sales at the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand, said: “I am delighted to be welcoming Susanne Franz, a digital and marketing expert with decades-long international experience, to Volkswagen. Together, we will systematically forge ahead with realigning our brand and our marketing activities. I am convinced that Susanne Franz and the expertise she brings with her will make a decisive contribution to giving Volkswagen a clear brand profile in all regions and to turning our brand back into a genuine love brand.”

Franz will succeed Nelly Kennedy, who stepped down as global CMO of Volkswagen in February 2023 for personal reasons. Kennedy had been in the role for just over a year and had initiated several projects and initiatives to revamp the brand marketing, such as the New Volkswagen campaign, the Volkswagen Newsroom, and the Volkswagen Way to Zero sustainability strategy.

A Brief Profile of Franz

Franz has over 30 years of experience in brand marketing, both in the automotive and other sectors. Before joining Audi, she was responsible for marketing at Seat, another Volkswagen Group brand. Before that, she held various senior positions in global marketing at Alfa Romeo and Suzuki. Franz studied business administration at the University of Applied Sciences in Wiesbaden, Germany, and also holds a postgraduate diploma in international marketing from the University of California, Berkeley, USA. She is married and has two children.

By Andrea Wilson

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