Rubin Postaer sets up Acura team

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Rubin Postaer & Associates assigned a dedicated team for American Honda Motor Co.'s Acura brand, nearly a year after being handed the account.

The car marketer moved the business to its longtime Honda brand agency without a review last summer from Suissa Miller. Both are based in Santa Monica, Calif.

The marketer's decision to move Acura, which was supported with $137 million in media last year, "wasn't based on account service; it was based on economics," said Eric Conn, senior manager of national advertising for both Honda and Acura. "We needed to reduce the cost of our advertising. It was very unfortunate for Suissa Miller."

Rubin had no time to staff up for Acura because the agency immediately had to start work for the launch of the redone CL coupe, Mr. Conn said, adding that the key members on the Honda account handled the February launch. With that introduction under its belt, Rubin Postaer got some breathing space before it had to start work on ads for the all-new MD-X sport-utility being introduced this fall, Mr. Conn said.

"In the last month or so, [Rubin was] finally able to appoint a dedicated Acura group," he added.

Joan Egan, formerly No. 2 at Rubin Postaer on the Honda account, is now heading up the Acura business. She keeps the title of senior VP-group account director.

Until recently, creative on both Honda and Acura was handled by Mark Erwin, Wendi Knox, David Smith and Joe Baratelli. The four senior VP-creative directors also worked on other, non-car accounts. Now, Mr. Erwin and Ms. Knox work only on Acura, as well as other non-Honda clients. Messrs. Smith and Baratelli work on Honda and other non-car clients.

DOUBLE DUTY

Chuck Valentine, senior VP-group account director on the Honda brand at Rubin Postaer, was doing double duty, overseeing Acura brochures, Mr. Conn said, adding, "I want him 100% on Honda." Mr. Valentine remains head of the Honda account.

Ms. Egan's successors on Honda are Brett Bender and Mary Jane Kroll, previously account supervisors, now VP-account supervisors reporting to Mr. Valentine.

Bill Hagelstein, exec VP, is working on Honda and Acura national ads. His counterpart on the brands' regional dealer advertising is Denny Remsing, exec VP at the agency's RP Alpha Group. Pen Pendleton, formerly VP-management supervisor on Acura, was promoted to senior VP, working on strategic planning for Honda and Acura.

Gerry Rubin, CEO of the agency, said that when the shop acquired Acura, "We had a business plan that involved the addition of 90 people to service the Acura business." Those people have been hired and are working at Rubin's Santa Monica headquarters and in regional offices.

Mr. Conn said Rubin was able to reduce its rates "a little bit" due to "economies of scale" of having both Honda and Acura. Even with Rubin's dedicated Acura team, the client won't pay more than before the team was in place, he said. Acura spent $137 million in measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

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