Saatchi Puts Familiar Face in Charge of Planning

Continuing an overhaul of its media department that began after the departure of its longtime media director this fall, Saatchi & Saatchi has brought back a former staffer, Kathi Perea, for the newly created position of director of media planning.

Perea, 41, has spent the past three years as an account manager at Time magazine, where her client list included Toyota Motor Sales USA, which is Saatchi’s largest client. Prior to her stint at Time, she worked in Saatchi’s Torrance, Calif., office for 11 years, rising from receptionist to associate media director.

Perea becomes the third major hire for the shop’s 30-person media operation since media director Emily Weiss left in September for Dailey & Associates in West Hollywood, Calif.

Saatchi CEO Scott Gilbert said Weiss’ resignation prompted the agency to revamp the department with an eye toward creating a “media dream team.”

“After Emily left, we were thinking about how to fill her shoes,” said Gilbert. “We decided this is a opportunity to take [the department] up a notch. We have been very lucky to attract some quality people. To have Kathi come back to the roost is really a great compliment.”

Perea, who was born just a few miles from the Saatchi office, said she decided to return to the agency after Jim Helberg, 41, joined as director of media operations in October. Helberg had previously been vp/corporate sales for Time Inc.

“I’m back home,” she said. “I missed the agency life and wanted to work with Jim again. He has a great perspective on the car market. Our goal is to make Toyota the happiest client on earth.”

Perea is charged with building cross-platform integration for Toyota marketing while developing a “better operational structure to service clients,” the agency said.

Saatchi also recently hired Bonnie Chan, 50. The former communications director at Team One joined Saatchi Nov. 1 as integrated communications director, a new post.