Mr. Rinek will open a new West Coast office for the agency in Newport Beach, Calif., to work with auto marketers Kia, Hyundai and Mazda as well as auto and other marketers worldwide, including those from Beekman's European office, set to open in 2007.
Mr. Rinek knows Beekman well, having worked with the operation for six years. He praised the agency for helping Nissan "achieve industry-leading practices," while bringing costs down and providing fair compensation to Nissan's ad agency, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey. He said Beekman and his own involvement in the Association of National Advertisers helped Nissan add an incentive package to TBWA's compensation in 2000 as the carmaker was starting its turnaround plan.
"No one likes people coming in looking at their numbers. There's resistance," he said of the agency-compensation process. "A big part is to build trust and try to take the emotion out of this."
Mr. Rinek had also been a standout in the media world, having been the point man for the automaker's strides in mix, targeting, return on investment, efficiencies and measurability.
'Our resident expert'
The executive held his former Nissan position since 2000 at the prompting of Jed Connelly, who as senior VP-sales and marketing was the top executive in the U.S. for Nissan. "We had tremendous confidence in John, who was our resident expert on advertising and media," said Mr. Connelly, who recently retired from Nissan. "He was invaluable to us in negotiating our agreement with the Chiat while keeping an eye on cost and efficiencies."
Mr. Rinek could be tough with the agency while maintaining a good working relationship, Mr. Connelly said. "He's a gentleman and imminently trustworthy."
VP-Marketing Jan Thompson, said as a result of Mr. Rinek's efforts, Nissan was a pioneer in performance-driven contracts where agencies can earn additional compensation if certain objectives are met. "John ... always worked hard to find solutions that worked for everyone," she said.
Bucked media unbundling
Mr. Rinek bucked pressure to separate TBWA from the Publicis Groupe media sibling OMD West, Los Angeles, as media unbundling gained popularity a few years ago. "I was insistent OMD be in the same building with TBWA. I said we are not going to split this."
Mr. Rinek's ad career had an unlikely start: His undergrad degree is in religious studies from UC-Santa Barbara. But during grad school at UCLA, Needham, Harper & Steers, Los Angeles, paid him for a project and hired him after he got his MBA. He spent a decade as ad director of Yamaha Motor Corp. after an unsuccessful pitch for its motorcycle account. Mr. Rinek then had a stint at Sanyo Fisher before joining Nissan.
He pointed to the 1988 "Road to Rio" Pathfinder campaign he oversaw as ad chief for the Nissan brand as a shining career moment, but said he's most proud of being part of the team that led the automaker's stunning U.S. turnaround. He was an Advertising Age Media Maven in 2004.
Tim Bajraktari, co-founding partner of Beekman, said Mr. Rinek will be a valuable asset. "John brings us an important client-side perspective," he said.