Car Czar Would Control $7.3 Billion Ad Budget

Rescue Plan From Congress Would Create World's Most Powerful Marketing Exec

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The world's most powerful marketing executive is now the car czar.

The draft rescue plan for Detroit sent to the White House by Congress yesterday calls for the appointment of a "car czar" who will oversee the Big Three automakers' expenses over $25 million -- which, by extension, would include media buys. Based on Advertising Age's estimates of spending by General Motors Corp., Chrysler and Ford Motor Co., that would give the as-yet-unnamed car czar control over some $7.3 billion in marketing spending in the U.S. alone.

The marketing money controlled by the car czar would handily top that of Procter & Gamble, the country's leading advertiser, which spends some $5.2 billion, and shove P&G's global marketing officer Marc Pritchard off his perch as the most influential man in marketing.

Clout with media and agencies
The car czar would wield a budget more than double those of AT&T, Verizon, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson, which round out the nation's top five marketing spenders, and give the car czar more clout with media and agencies than such famed names in marketing as Walmart Chief Marketing Officer Stephen Quinn and Anheuser-Busch VP-Marketing Dave Peacock.

The question is: Who might ascend to marketing's top slot? The two names being bandied about are former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker, suggested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who ran the federal Sept. 11 victims fund and has been cited in some media reports.

But whoever is chosen, this much is fairly certain: If the bailout goes through, agencies that work for the Big Three will essentially be toiling on a government account, with all the associated red tape and strictures that involves.

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