DDB Hires New Account Chief on Subaru

NEW YORK DDB confirmed that it has tapped Joe Cronin, former worldwide account director on Toyota at Saatchi & Saatchi, to succeed Jack Wheaton as group account director on Subaru.

Cronin, who started last week, reports to both DDB New York president Peter Hempel and chairman Lee Garfinkel. Wheaton is expected to shift to other account responsibilities within a few weeks.

Subaru spends about $200 million in major measured media annually, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Late last year, the Cherry Hill, N.J., client met with two contenders from the 2004 review that Omnicom Group’s DDB won [Adweek, Jan. 9]. Last month, however, Subaru vp of marketing Rick Crosson downplayed the meetings and reaffirmed DDB’s status as lead agency. Still, sources said that DDB’s search for a new account chief came at the request of Subaru.

DDB first talked to Cronin more than a year ago, after the agency landed the account, Garfinkel said. “Peter and I were interested in him when we won the business,” Garfinkel added. “We stayed in touch.”

In particular, Garfinkel was impressed by Cronin’s ability to connect with not only top Toyota executives but also dealers. “He had great credentials and the more I met him the more I liked him,” Garfinkel said.

Cronin left Saatchi in 2002, after 18 years, working on Toyota the entire time. Since then, he has taught global marketing and international business courses as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University in Boston—his alma mater. At the same time, Cronin consulted for both startup businesses and car companies via a consultancy called Cronin Communications.