Publicis Parts with New US Agency Boss to Placate GM

25 June 2003

Publicis Groupe has hastily reversed an executive appointment after it was branded “unacceptable” by a major client.

The agency group was slammed by General Motors last month after its Saatchi & Saatchi network poached GM staffer Kurt Ritter to be ceo in Torrance, California – the office that handles rival auto giant Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Ritter’s thirty-year GM career included stints as general manager at the Buick and Pontiac brands and marketing positions at Chevrolet. His transfer to the head of the Toyota account was branded “unacceptable and inappropriate” by a furious GM – a company not normally noted for its public outbursts [WAMN: 23-May-03].

A red-faced Publicis has now reversed the appointment, and Ritter is leaving Saatchi & Saatchi. His next career move has not been disclosed.

Doubtless relieved are Publicis shops Leo Burnett Worldwide in Chicago and Chemistri in Troy, Michigan – they handle an estimated $350 million (€303m; £210m) in GM billings. Toyota’s spend with Saatchi & Saatchi is upwards of $600m.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff