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June 26, 2003

USA: General Motors exec who jumped ship to run Toyota advertising moves again – paper

Kurt Ritter, who resigned from General Motors last spring after 32 years to run the Toyota Motor account at the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, a unit of the French conglomerate Publicis Groupe, has left the post after just a month, according to a report in the Detroit News.

By bcusack

Kurt Ritter, who resigned from General Motors last spring after 32 years to run the Toyota Motor account at the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, a unit of the French conglomerate Publicis Groupe, has left the post after just a month, according to a report in the Detroit News.

The paper said the move annoyed GM, which spends more than $US350 million at various Publicis ad agencies, and, after Ritter’s resignation, GM vice president of marketing and advertising John Middlebrook openly objected to Publicis.

“I called Publicis and expressed my displeasure,” Middlebrook told the Detroit News in an interview on Tuesday, adding that GM never threatened to pull business from the agency.

The Detroit News noted that, traditionally, advertising agencies have handled accounts at just one car maker but the consolidation of the world’s agencies has made the practice more difficult.

The paper said Ritter has started his own consulting firm called “Against All Odds” based in Torrance, California, where his only client is Toyota [also Torrance-based], where he will be focusing on marketing and communication strategies, according to Toyota spokesman Xavier Dominicis.

The Detroit News said there’s little chance of Ritter returning to GM. “Never say never,” Middlebrook reportedly told the paper, “but he made his decision.”

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