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Former Chrysler PR pro Tom Kowaleski

by David Zatz on

Former Chrysler PR pro Tom Kowaleski has died at the age of 63, according to the International Motor Press Association (IMPA), which called him “a major force in automotive public relations and marketing since the latter part of the 20th Century.”

Chrysler’s Ed Garsten, head of digital media and former Detroit News reporter, wrote, “I worked on many stories as a journalist with Tom over the years. His fascinating personality, high level of expertise and honesty and great taste in restaurants and wines always made it a pleasure to work with him. He will be greatly missed. ”

Richard Truett wrote in Automotive News that Mr. Kowaleski was one of the people responsible for the attention-grabbing Chrysler press conferences of the 1990s, including driving a Jeep through a window at the Detroit Auto Show in 1992 and dropping the revolutionary 1994 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup from the ceiling.  (See this 2013 interview). The goal, which they reached, was to gain a “broader audience” than the auto and business press.

Mr. Kowaleski had joined Chrysler in 1988, having already worked at AMC and Renault, as well as Campbell and Company, becoming vice president of marketing for Chrysler Europe in 1996. He left Chrysler in 1999 for General Motors, become vice president of global communicationsin December 2004 and then switching to BMW in 2006, staying there until his 2012 retirement. He then joined Ford as a consultant. Even then, he owned a Dodge Viper and a classic Ferrari, both of which he recently sold.

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