MEDIA MAVENS;HELPING EXPEDITE CHRYSLER'S BUYING & PLANNING DECISIONS;DAVID MARTIN

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Credit David Martin with making Chrysler Corp. the fastest media decision maker among Detroit's Big 3.

In the competitive automotive arena, quick judgments can provide an edge. Even though Chrysler was-and still is-leaner than General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. before the formation of its media-buying service PentaCom, the marketer's decisions were slowed by bureaucracy.

`MESSIAH'

A media rep who deals with Detroit carmakers say PentaCom "has the best people and the best system. If David Martin was PentaCom's architect, then he's the Messiah."

Mr. Martin, with more than 30 years of industry experience, is indeed the visionary behind Troy, Mich.-based PentaCom. He was hired as a consultant by BBDO Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., agency for Dodge, in 1992 to pitch Chrysler's called-for consolidation of its $400 million media budget. Chrysler's two other agencies then, Bozell and CME KHBB, were also pitching.

His strategy was to simplify.

"There were so many decision makers in between the [media] process," Mr. Martin says. "When I first presented the idea to the client, I told them it takes a great deal of courage to make a decision to cut down the number of people making decisions. Thank God we have a client with the chutzpah to make that kind of decision."

Chrysler's agencies were often at odds with each other, he says. Media representatives took advantage, playing one shop against the others to squeeze more money for media.

ALSO CONSOLIDATES PLANNING

Although Chrysler had only wanted to combine media buying, Mr. Martin also recommended media planning be merged to eliminate that agency friction.

The end result was to park the account at PentaCom, a new subsidiary of BBDO dedicated to Chrysler's media and formed in 1993. Mr. Martin was hired to head the unit. Chrysler streamlined; PentaCom eliminated duplicate jobs at the agencies. Layers of decision-makers and approval steps were eliminated.

Consider: Chrysler took just an hour to decide to buy domestic automotive spots from Fox's National Hockey League coverage in the 1994-'95 season. The offer went to PentaCom planners overseeing Dodge, but they floated it to Chrysler-Plymouth and Jeep-Eagle planners. Dodge split the time with Jeep

"In the old days, that never would have happened," Mr. Martin says.

Before PentaCom, he adds, the divisions and their agencies "would have been highly combative."

Under Mr. Martin, PentaCom inked annual contracts for all its print buys shortly after its founding: "It saved us money and gave us better continuity control."

Mr. Martin has worked with major broadcast companies, including Group W. He also was a senior VP at the Detroit-area offices of McCann-Erickson and Campbell-Ewald and established the corporate media department at Stroh Brewery Co.

PentaCom has helped Chrysler lower the average buyers' age on its Chrysler and Plymouth brands. Among other things: media buys are aimed at younger targets, and floppy computer discs and CD-ROMs are now sometimes used to sell younger consumers.

Yet Mr. Martin, who keeps a self-described "low profile" with the client, remains modest: "It could not have happened without [Chrysler's] products."

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