Dieter Zetsche

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Dieter Zetsche
Dieter Zetsche 9.JPG
Born (1953-05-05) 5 May 1953 (age 66)
Other namesDr. Z (Doctor Zee)
Alma materUniversity of Karlsruhe,
University of Paderborn
OccupationChairman of TUI AG
PredecessorJürgen E. Schrempp
SuccessorOla Källenius

Dieter Zetsche (German pronunciation: [̩diːtɐ ˈtsɛtʃə]; born on 5 May 1953 in Istanbul, Turkey) is a German engineer and business executive. He is the current chairman of TUI AG. He was the Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz until 22 May 2019, a role he had held since 2006 in addition to being a member of the company's board since 1998.

Early life and education[edit]

Zetsche was born while his father, Herbert Zetsche, a civil engineer, was temporarily in Turkey for a dam construction project. The family returned to Germany in 1956. Dieter Zetsche attended school in Oberursel (near Frankfurt am Main) and studied electrical engineering from 1971 to 1976 at the University of Karlsruhe; he graduated as an engineer. He completed his doctorate in engineering in 1982 at the University of Paderborn.



Zetsche joined Daimler-Benz in 1976, working in the research department. In 1981, he became Assistant Development Manager at the Vehicles business unit. He became a member of Daimler Chrysler's Board of Management in 1998 and served as the President/CEO of Chrysler Group from mid-2000 to 31 December 2005, where he was credited with a turnaround of DCX's American operations. Since 1 January 2006 he succeeded Jürgen Schrempp as Chairman of DaimlerChrysler (now Daimler AG), being succeeded in the position of Chrysler Group CEO by Thomas W. LaSorda.

Zetsche was the main influence behind the demerger of Daimler and Chrysler in 2007, which ended in the newly formed Daimler AG. Following profit warnings in 2012 and 2013, weak sales in China and tensions with Daimler's powerful labour representatives, his contract was renewed for only three years instead of the expected five.[1] He received €14.4 million in pay and bonuses in 2014, making him the second-highest paid employee at a listed German company.[2] After a record year for car sales and revenue in 2015, Zetsche's contract was extended to 2019.[3]

Zetsche is credited with bringing significant core changes to the Mercedes-Benz company in an effort to turn around a decade-long downward spiral in product quality and customer satisfaction. He was named in Time Magazine's 2006's list of 100 most influential people. On the invitation of the Green Party’s leadership, Zetsche was invited to address the 2016 party conference.[4]

On 26 September 2018, it was announced that Zetsche will step down as the company's CEO in May 2019 to comply with a two-year-long hiatus regulatory rule before becoming chairman of Daimler's supervisory board in 2021.[5]

Ask Dr. Z campaign

Chrysler headquarters advertising the website ""

On 30 June 2006 Chrysler Group announced the Employee Pricing Plus program, which featured Dieter Zetsche as Dr. Z (Doctor Zee[6]), the DaimlerChrysler spokesman for a series of United States and Canadian television commercials,[7][8] also animated in cartoon format on the company's Ask Dr. Z website, which began on 1 July.

The "Ask Dr. Z" campaign included television, radio, print, online, in-dealership and customer relationship marketing media components and aggressive marketing tactics (mobile billboards, aerial banners, street teams), as well as targeting the NASCAR fan community. In the "Ask Dr. Z" ad campaign he provides answers to customers' questions and exits by saying "Auf Wiedersehen" (German for "goodbye" or "see you again").

The ad campaign emphasized the consumer benefits of the best of American and German engineering and design built into every Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicle. One included Zetsche riding in a Jeep Liberty crossing a pile of logs, another showed him at the trunk of a Dodge Caravan minivan heading a soccer ball, and the last showed him at the wheel of a Chrysler Pacifica when it undergoes a crash test where he emerges from the wreckage unscathed.[9][10]

As a response to shrinking sales, the Employee Pricing Plus program was extended through the end of August and three new TV ads, which did not feature Dr. Z, were added to the August campaign.[11] After three months however DaimlerChrysler hurriedly withdrew the Dr. Z campaign due to a significant loss in market share. However, some of the Dr. Z ads can still be seen on Canadian television. In later broadcasts, the tagline in Dr. Z TV ads was changed to 'See the best in German and North American design in your Dodge and Chrysler dealer.'

The campaign was criticized for having the wrong guy for doing funny ads.[12] CNW Marketing Research poll showed most people thought Dr. Z was a fictional character, did not notice the employee discount offer in the ads and radio commercial listeners had difficulty understanding his German accent.[9][13]

TUI AG[edit]

In February 2018, even before the announcement of his departure from Daimler, in its Annual General Meeting held by tourism company TUI AG, Zetsche was elected as a member of the Supervisory Board.[14] This was officially confirmed in May 2019 when Zetsche was announced as new chairman of TUI's Supervisory Board.

Other activities (selection)[edit]

Corporate boards[edit]

  • Deutsche Bank, Member of the European Advisory Board (2006–present)[15]
  • RWE, Member of the Supervisory Board (2009–2016)

Non-profit organizations[edit]


In the autumn of 2011, Zetsche was investigated for the involuntary manslaughter of a 27-year-old engineer who died in an accident caused by an intern on one of the firm's test tracks. The newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung reported earlier that the parents of the engineer felt the company should not have put the intern behind the wheel of a fast car on a test track. However, it was generally agreed that the public prosecutors were over-reaching their prosecutorial authority in holding Zetsche responsible, as he was not responsible in any way for regulating the limits of interns' activities while at the company.[25]


  1. ^ Andy Sharman (April 1, 2015), Daimler set to reward Dieter Zetsche with extended contract Financial Times.
  2. ^ Andy Sharman (April 1, 2015), Daimler set to reward Dieter Zetsche with extended contract Financial Times.
  3. ^ Patrick McGee (February 16, 2016), Daimler extends CEO's contract and appoints new R&D head Financial Times.
  4. ^ Guy Chazan (April 3, 2017), Germany's Greens stuck in rut after dismal election showing Financial Times.
  5. ^ Dieter Zetsche (26 September 2018). "The Next Step".
  6. ^ Matt Saunders (10 September 2013). "My money is on the new S-class brand". Jalopnik.
  7. ^ Clark, Andrew. "Svengali-like Dr Z - the unlikely star of Daimler's TV ad campaign in US". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2006.
  8. ^ Chrysler Group Turns Up the Heat with Employee Pricing Plus for All Customers Archived 2006-07-21 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b "Top 10 Chrysler Moments". Time. April 30, 2009.
  10. ^ Ray Wert. "Dodge Nitro Kills Dog, Makes Us Cry A Little". Jalopnik.
  11. ^ "Why, Dr. Z, Why?: Chrysler's ad campaign flops despite employee pricing for all".
  12. ^ Davey G. Johnson. "The Trouble With Dr. Z". Jalopnik.
  13. ^ "Is Chrysler's".
  14. ^ "Change at the helm of TUI's Supervisory Board". May 23, 2019. Retrieved 23 August 2019.
  15. ^ 2006 Annual Report: Advisory Boards Deutsche Bank.
  16. ^ Presidium Federation of German Industries (BDI).
  17. ^ Board of Trustees Archived 2018-04-20 at the Wayback Machine Deutscher Zukunftspreis.
  18. ^ Managing Board & Presiding Board German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA).
  19. ^ Board of Directors European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).
  20. ^ Board of Trustees European School of Management and Technology (ESMT).
  21. ^ Board of Trustees Baden-Badener Unternehmer-Gespräche (BBUG).
  22. ^ International Advisory Council Brookings Institution.
  23. ^ Board Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft.
  24. ^ Advisory Board Archived 2018-01-28 at the Wayback Machine Turkey: Culture of Change Initiative (TCCI).
  25. ^ Reuters (16 September 2011). "German manslaughter probe launched at Daimler CEO". Reuters.

External links[edit]