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Leaves Saatchi; His New Firm Will Handle Toyota

By Published on .

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- One month after joining Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif., as CEO, Kurt Ritter is leaving the agency to start his own consulting firm, Against All Odds.

Mr. Ritter's client at his marketing consulting company is Toyota Motor Sales USA, a Toyota spokesman told AdAge.com today. Saatchi is the agency for Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota brand.

Mr. Ritter said Against All Odds

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will be based in Torrance, although the address isn't firm at this point. He said he is the sole shareholder and Toyota will be his only client. He said he got the idea for his new consultancy's name from a book with that title about the founding of Japan's Toyota Motor Corp.

'Reshape marketing direction'
Mr. Ritter will "help reshape Toyota's overall marketing direction," enhance the client-agency relationship and provide stratetic positioning counseling for the Toyota division and its nameplates, the spokesman said.

Separately, Rich Anderman, also hired last month as chief operating officer of Saatchi, Torrance, moves to the top post at the agency, adding the new title of president.

Mr. Ritter had been with General Motors Corp. for 32 years before taking the post at Saatchi, which is owned by Publicis Groupe.

GM had made it clear that it is angry with Publicis for hiring away one of its executives to work on a rival's business. C.J. Fraleigh, GM's executive director of corporate advertising, told Advertising Age last month that Publicis' hiring of Mr. Ritter was "unacceptable and inappropriate." He also said GM had "voiced its extreme displeasure to Publicis" about the matter.

Publicis and GM
Publicis agencies handle more than $350 million in GM advertising accounts. Chemistri, based in Troy, Mich., handles advertising for Pontiac and Cadillac, while General Motors Planworks, Detroit, is the automaker's dedicated media planner and researcher.

Mr. Ritter declined to discuss the reaction by GM to his retirement last month, saying "I prefer to look forward not back."

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