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Kia Fills Marketing Director Slot

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DETROIT Kia Motors America has hired automotive industry veteran Tom Smith to fill a top marketing position vacant at the automaker for nearly six months.

Smith, who joins as director of marketing communications at the company's U.S. headquarters in Irvine, Calif., replaces Rick Weisehan who left Aug. 1. He reports directly to Walter Anderson, KMA vice president, marketing.

Most recently, Smith was marketing director for Rolls-Royce and Bentley brands in North America for Volkswagen AG, their parent company. Previously, he spent 12 years with Toyota Motor Corp. His duties will include supervising the activities of Kia's agency, davidandgoliath, Los Angeles.

"Tom will be the primary contact with the agency," Anderson said. "This has absolutely no impact whatsoever on our agency relationship. I do know that quite frequently when there's a change of this sort there are agency reviews and that will not occur in this case. We are right in the process of completing our contract for the 2003 calendar year."

Smith will be responsible for all Kia advertising, including the dealer marketing groups. His duties include overseeing customer relationship marketing for the company, including the Internet and direct mail, as well as merchandising activities such as auto shows, dealer meetings and point of purchase, Anderson said.

Kia spends about $250 million annually on measured media advertising, per CMR.