Colby Picks Booth to Handle American Suzuki

Colby & Partners has named automotive advertising veteran Brad Booth to head the car portion of the American Suzuki automotive account.

The Detroit native, 39, most recently worked as senior vice president and account director on the Hyundai Motor America account at Bates USA West in Irvine, Calif. He will have the same title at Colby. An 18-year veteran of automotive advertising, Booth departed Bates earlier this year when Hyundai moved the $165 million account to The Richards Group in Dallas after a review.

Although the Suzuki account is significantly smaller, pegged by sources at around $70 million, Booth said he is “thrilled by the opportun ity.” He also noted that his commute from Orange County to the Santa Monica, Calif., shop is made easier by the Suzuki XL7 SUV he received as part of his compensation package.

“Suzuki’s resources are not as great as some others [in the automotive category] so we have to ensure that the advertising works as hard as it can,” said Booth, who started his new position last month. “My main goals are to increase awareness of Suzuki and accomplish retail objectives.”

Colby executives said they jumped at the chance to recruit an adman who has spent nearly two decades in the car business. They also insisted that Bates’ inability to hang on to Hyundai was in no way an indictment of Booth’s work on the account.

“Frankly, the work [on Hyundai] was good, and the sales increase was tremendous,” said Colby partner and evp Paul Katzka. “There were a lot of other factors involved [in the decision to move the account]. We’re thrilled to have Brad join us.”

The shop’s president and executive creative director Rick Colby agreed. “There was a change in the relationship between Hyundai and Bates, but the work was great. There is no worry there.”

While Booth spent the last two years at Bates, it was his second stint at the shop. He had worked there from 1988 to 1994 before heading to Rubin Postaer and Associates. He worked at Y&R, Detroit, from 1984 to 1988.

Colby, a unit of Dentsu, began its relationship with Suzuki five years ago when the shop began handling the motorcycle portion of the account. Two years ago, the car portion was added, and the shop has since picked up the smaller all-terrain-vehicle business.