Former GM Exec May Shift Saatchi & Saatchi Duties

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DETROIT ( -- Kurt Ritter, who last month was named CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi's Torrance, Calif., office, is expected to meet with his senior management today and announce a change in his position.

Mr. Ritter -- who left General Motors Corp. last month after 32 years for Saatchi, which is the agency for Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota brand -- will still be involved with Toyota, possibly as a consultant, according to an insider at the automaker. Saatchi is owned by Publicis Groupe.

Joining Toyota?
The insider declined comment

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when asked if Mr. Ritter would join Toyota.

A Saatchi spokesman in New York declined comment. Neither Mr. Ritter nor Toyota could be reached for comment.

GM 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.

John Middlebrook, GM's vice president and general manager of advertising, declined comment in an e-mail last Friday, saying that "any news or comment will have to come from [Mr.] Ritter or Saatchi. We are not involved."

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