LOS ANGELES Kurt Ritter, the new chief executive officer of Saatchi & Saatchi's operations in Torrance, Calif., has left his post just a month after he started, sources said. Ritter's exit appears to be related to a larger fracas between General Motors and Saatchi parent Publicis Groupe.
Ritter left a senior post at GM to take the Saatchi job, where he was in charge of overseeing Saatchi's Toyota factory business, which is run out of Los Angeles. That fact alone irked GM, his longtime employer, said sources. But on top of that, Ritter retired from GM, thereby collecting a pension even while Publicis Groupe's Saatchi paid him to oversee rival automaker Toyota, sources said.
GM cried foul at the turn of events, since it continues to have business (Cadillac and Pontiac) at a Publicis Groupe agency: Chemistri in Troy, Mich. As a result, Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy has recently done a bit of damage control, meeting with GM executives [Adweek, May 26]. Ritter's departure could be interpreted as a gesture of good will.
It was not immediately clear if Saatchi would replace Ritter, or perhaps promote his No. 2: managing director and COO Rich Alderman. Saatchi could not be reached.