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Michael Browner to Join Publisher of 'National Enquirer'

By Published on .

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Media veteran Michael Browner is stepping down as executive director of media and marketing operations at General Motors Corp. and will join publisher American Media.

Betsy Lazar
A GM spokeswoman said Mr. Browner will step

GM's Michael Browner moves to American Media, publisher of the 'National Enquirer.'
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down effective April 1. Betsy Lazar, director of media operations, will assume his responsibilities for media operations, the spokeswoman said.

American Media is the publisher of The Star and National Enquirer.

Mr. Browner controlled a budget of more than $2 billion for the automaker. GM spent $2.2 billion in measured media in the first 11 months of 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The carmaker had two dedicated agencies for media: Publicis Groupe's Planworks, Detroit, for planning and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Mediaworks, Warren, Mich., for buying.

'Retirement option'
Mr. Browner, 62, just built a home in Florida, where American Media has an office, said an executive close to the media veteran. Mr. Browner accepted a "retirement option" from GM, which is reducing head count, the executive said. The retirement package, coupled with the new opportunity, marked "a great move," the executive said.

Mr. Browner could not be reached for comment by press time.

Mr. Browner, well respected in media circles, oversaw the 2000 competition for GM's $2.8 billion consolidated U.S. media planning account. The New York native, in a Advertising Age profile in 2001, described the 1994 consolidation of GM's U.S. media buying as his greatest professional accomplishment.

David Pecker, Chairman-CEO of American Media, said Mr. Browner had signed a multiyear contract that makes Mr. Browner a wide-ranging marketing and branding consultant with the publisher.

Younger audiences
Among Mr. Browner's duties, Mr. Pecker said, would be to transition the nouveau-tabloid Star to a younger audience, in a manner similar to how GM sold Cadillac to a generation of younger consumers.

"I don't know anyone in media who can do that better than Michael Browner."

He said Mr. Browner will help staff a new corporate sales department and help oversee efforts to enable American Media to assemble "integrated programs" across its portfolio, which includes The Star, National Enquirer and Shape. Mr. Browner's knowledge of Detroit "will help, but it wasn't my main focus," said Mr. Pecker, who in the past has placed a premium on attracting automotive advertising to American Media.

Muscle books
Mr. Browner will also be involved in bringing mass brands into American Media's niche men's muscle books Muscle & Fitness and Flex, Mr. Pecker said. Those titles recently inked a deal with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to be their executive editor.

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