DETROIT Auto marketing veteran Steve Wilhite has joined interactive publisher rep firm Jumpstart Automotive Media in San Francisco as president.
Wilhite, who most recently served as COO of Hyundai after stints at Volkswagen and Nissan, will direct all marketing, sales and product development in the newly created position at Jumpstart. He will report to Jumpstart's CEO Mitch Lowe. Wilhite also has joined the company's board of directors.
"The digital space is becoming increasingly important and we are just now seeing the tip of the trend in the auto industry," Wilhite said. "For me, the most fascinating thing is that once you get your message right, you are now able to know how to say it and who to say it to."
Wilhite in 1998 was honored as Brandweek's Grand Marketer of the Year for his work on Volkswagen with the "Drivers Wanted" campaign and the introduction of the New Beetle.
Wilhite was also vp, marketing at Nissan North America, where he helped create the "Shift" campaign. He later served as svp, global marketing for Nissan and Infiniti.
Additionally, Wilhite worked at Apple when the "Think different" campaign was developed. But it is the auto category that he's most passionate about. "I love this business and always like to see how great brands can interact and also help auto manufacturers be a little more precise," Wilhite said.
Lowe added: "Steve understands the challenges and the constraints of online spending of dealers as well as those of the manufacturers. He has walked in their shoes and has taken on their problems. He will be a great asset."