Lazar's Next Moves

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General Motors Corp. is losing U.S. media czar Michael Browner on the eve of the critical TV upfront. But while executives close to the country's No. 1 advertiser predict a smooth transition, his successor on the media side, Betsy Lazar, will need to move swiftly to establish the strong credentials Mr. Browner had with the networks.

GM spent $2.2 billion in measured media in the first 11 months of 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Mr. Browner's responsibilities as executive director-media and marketing operations are being divided among current GM executives including his second lieutenant, Ms. Lazar, general director-media operations.

Ms. Lazar, 47, won't get Mr. Browner's marketing responsibilities, a GM spokeswoman said. Those included promotions and sponsorships such as the automaker's multi-year deal with U.S. Olympics Committee.

"Betsy is very talented and more than capable of running the day-to-day media stuff there because she's already been doing it," said Lou Schultz, a veteran of Interpublic Group of Cos. on GM accounts who is now a consultant. GM's two dedicated agencies, Interpublic's General Motors Mediaworks, Warren, Mich., and Publicis Groupe's General Motors Planworks, Detroit, he said, "are functioning on all cylinders."

GM's sponsorships are managed day-to-day by Steve Tihanyi, general director-marketing alliances and regional operations. Mr. Tihanyi, who reports to Mr. Browner, won't report to Ms. Lazar after Mr. Browner's departure date April 1, the spokeswoman said. She added, "I assume he'll [Mr. Tihanyi] report to Roger Adams."

Mr. Adams became executive director-advertising and corporate marketing at GM in February after swapping jobs with Christopher "C.J." Fraleigh, now general manager of Buick, Pontiac and GMC. Ms. Lazar will report to Mr. Adams.

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