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Doner Bulks Up Strategy Unit

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Doner is continuing to build its strategic planning group in response to increasing demands from clients, hiring client-side veteran Steve Udell for a top post.

The group, which covers numerous marketing disciplines including some interactive and media planning, has tripled in size in three years to about 45 people, said Alan Kalter, CEO and chairman at the Southfield, Mich., agency.

Udell, who joins in the new position of vice president, associate director of marketing, will be responsible for consulting on business analysis, brand positioning and strategic planning for many of the agency's clients.

He reports to Fred Toettcher, senior vice president and director of marketing. Bryan Yolles, the agency's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, is the head of the department.

Kalter said the agency was looking for someone with client-side marketing experience to help with accounts whose executives are increasingly seeking help from the agency on new-business opportunities.

"A lot of advertising brands are under the same P&L pressures," he said. "It's something agencies are being asked to do more and more."

Most recently working as a consultant, Udell has more than 14 years of brand-management experience, all of it on the client side of the business. He was director of marketing at Kaz, a healthcare and outdoor products provider in New York. He has also worked in marketing at Nabisco Foods, Bayer, S.C. Johnson and Kohl's Department Stores, according to the agency.

Udell's initial focus at Doner will be on the Pet smart account, Kalter said, but he is also expected to be involved in new-business pitches.

Clients that have ex panded their use of the strategic planning group include Mazda, Blockbuster and Chiquita, Kalter said. While many agency holding companies farm such work out to other units, Doner, as an independent, handles it within the agency, he said.

Another recent hire to the department is K.C. Ruddeck, who joined the agency from J. Walter Thompson in Detroit as vice president of strategic planning. There are plans to add several more positions, Kalter said.