Kerri Martin Quits Automaker Coda for Post at BBDO West

Onetime BMW Marketer -- and Certified Sommelier -- Steers Career in New Direction: Wine Advertising

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NEW YORK ( -- After a series of high-profile marketer roles in the auto world at BMW and Volkswagen, Kerri Martin is taking on her first post on the agency side at BBDO West, where she will develop advertising in a very different category: wine.

Kerri Martin
Kerri Martin
Ms. Martin most recently served as chief marketing officer at Coda, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based electric car and battery start-up, a post she held for less than a year. She resigned two weeks ago and yesterday was her last day there.

"Coda Automotive respects Kerri's decision to pursue a new career opportunity to return to San Francisco," said Forrest Beanum, VP-public affairs and communications at Coda. "We are truly appreciative of the contributions she has made during her tenure at Coda that have helped position us for a successful launch later this year. Her strategic brand leadership and creativity will be missed."

Coda declined to comment on its plans for a replacement, but still at the company is Michael A. Jackson, the onetime GM marketing chief who was recruited to Coda earlier this year to serve as senior VP-global sales and distribution.

Ms. Martin starts at BBDO West, San Francisco, in mid-June with the title of senior VP-business director. As for what her specific role at BBDO will entail, Ms. Martin deferred to the agency, which would only say she is "joining to work on unspecified accounts."

According to executives familiar with the shift, however, Ms. Martin -- who is a certified wine professional and sommelier and Culinary Institute of America graduate -- is being brought aboard to work on the agency's E&J Gallo Winery account. Gallo, whose portfolio includes Turning Leaf, Carlo Rossi, Black Swan, Ecco Domani and Red Bicyclette, consolidated its account with Omnicom Group's BBDO West in 2006.

It's interesting that after given all of her automotive experience Ms. Martin won't be lending help to BBDO in its quest to find a new car account; it has been quietly in the hunt to replace the Chrysler brand accounts it lost last year.

Her jump to BBDO is also noteworthy given her longtime fondness for another shop: Crispin Porter & Bogusky.

Ms. Martin tapped MDC Partners' Crispin in 2002 to create a nontraditional blitz for the U.S. launch of the Mini that won accolades for its uniqueness in the car category. After she jumped ship to become VW's director of brand innovation in 2005, Ms. Martin yanked the $350 million account from Arnold, Boston, and handed it to Crispin without a review. Most recently, while at Coda, she chose Goodness Manufacturing, a shop launched by former Crispin executives, to handle creative for the electric car after a review.

The move to BBDO comes partly for personal reasons; Ms. Martin now gets to work and live in the same city. She moved to California in December 2008, but has been commuting to Coda's Santa Monica headquarters since she took on the post last August.

But Ms. Martin said it also fulfills a longtime desire to work at a big network shop. "Seventeen years ago when I graduated from college in the midst of a recession, my dream was to go agency side, and agencies weren't hiring at the time," Ms. Martin said. "I had dreams of going to Chicago and working at the big powerhouses like Leo Burnett and DDB Needham.

"The BBDO network is top-notch and I'm thrilled to be a part of it. ... They have fantastic, longstanding, creative-driven results. I'm excited to find media-agnostic ways to get the big idea out there."

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