GN’s Planworks Builds Toward 2001 Opening

DETROIT—GM Planworks, the new General Motors-dedicated media planning unit created by Starcom MediaVest Group set to open in early 2001, named two top managers last week. Mary Carpenter joins as director of operations and Jana O’Brien takes the post of executive director of strategic research and insights. Carpenter was vice president and media director at Starcom working on the Oldsmobile business; O’Brien was a Leo Burnett executive vice president and executive planning director on Coca-Cola, Pillsbury and Maytag, as well as the director of the research services group. Both will report to Dennis Donlin, the recently named president of GM Planworks. All three executives participated for SMG in the review that secured the$2.9 billion assignment. Carpenter plans to move to Detroit in the fall and will join Donlin who is already hiring 150-200 media professionals. It has not been determined whether O’Brien will be based in Detroit or Chicago, Carpenter said.

Four Shops Pitch for Ballpark

CHICAGO—Agencies last week completed credentials presentations for Sara Lee’s $20 million Ballpark Brands account. Roster shops FCB, DDB, Euro RSCG Tatham and Leo Burnett, all in Chicago, are vying for the account, which is shifting from Lowe, Lintas & Partners in New York.

Starcom Puts Army On Track

CHICAGO—In a deal brokered by Starcom Sports Marketing, the U.S. Army has entered a partnership deal with National Hot Rod Association drag racing’s Tony Schumacher and the Don Schumacher Racing Top Fuel Team. Starcom’s advertising partner, Leo Burnett, picked up the Army’s $95 million account in July following a review.

Twins President Joins VML’s Board

CHICAGO—Chris Clouser has joined the board at VML Inc. in Kansas City, Mo. Clouser is president of the Minnesota Twins baseball team and previously was an executive in the travel industry. VML also named founding partner Scott McCormick its president and Matt Anthony chief executive officer; John Valentine chairman and Craig Ligibel vice chairman.

Chief Named for Chicago Orcí Outpost

CHICAGO—J. Ricardo Davila was named managing director of the Chicago office of Los Angeles-based La Agencia de Orcí, which opened a year ago. Davila comes to La Agencia from Corpa O&M, Ogilvy & Mather’s former office in Caracas, Venezuela. The Chicago office has about six employees.

True North Acquires Howard, Merrell & Partners

ATLANTA—True North Communications has acquired Howard, Merrell & Partners, a Southeast agency recognized for its creative as well as top-drawer strategic research and account planning capabilities. The agency, in Raleigh, N.C., had 1999 billings of about $90 million. HM&P retains its name; it will operate autonomously, reporting to True North’s Bozell Group in New York. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.