Nissan’s Steve Wilhite Heads To Hyundai as New COO

DETROIT Hyundai has hired Steve Wilhite, senior vice president of marketing at Nissan, as its chief operating officer. Wilhite will join Hyundai on Aug. 16. He had been at Nissan for five years and the disclosure on Thursday of his departure “came out of left field,” a Nissan representative said. At Hyundai, Wilhite will oversee “everything,” from marketing and sales to communications, said company rep Chris Hosford. Wilhite will be based at the Korean automaker’s U.S. headquarters in Fountain Valley, Calif. “He has a terrific background, but a lot of people in the ad industry think of him as just a marketing person,” said Hyundai’s Hosford. The carmaker said year-to-date sales were up 4.6 percent from the same period last year at 281,240 units. Before Nissan, Wilhite spent nine years at Volkswagen in the ’90s, including a stint as senior marketing executive, working on Arnold’s “Drivers wanted” campaign. At Nissan, he worked with TBWA\Chiat\Day. Hyundai, whose lead shop is The Richards Group, spent $870 million on advertising in 2005 and nearly $300 million in the first five months of this year. Nissan year-to-date sales are off 6.6 percent this year.

BBDO Gains Gillette, Fonterra Brands in Asia-Pacific Markets

NEW YORK Procter & Gamble said it has awarded Asia-Pacific advertisng duties on its Gillette products to Omnicom’s BBDO. The agency network now adds Gillette in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong (in its Shanghai office), Asia and India (in Singapore) and Japan (in Tokyo). IPG’s McCann Erickson and WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather had handled those assignments. BBDO already handled Gillette in the U.S., Europe and Australia. BBDO also has won an international pitch for creative duties on the dairy products of Fonterra Brands. The New Zealand-based company spends an estimated $120 million on advertising in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, sources said. The assignment will be led by BBDO’s office in Singapore. Fonterra’s labels such as Anchor & Fernlead, Anlene, Anmum, Mainland and Tip Top are expected to roll out in other markets over the next two years, sources said. Saatchi & Saatchi, WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather and IPG’s Draft FCB Group were the incumbents in the various regions. In the pitch, BBDO, also a Fonterra roster shop, bested the other finalist, WPP’s Young & Rubicam, said sources. Media chores, also part of the pitch, were consolidated at Omnicom’s OMD from various incumbents.

NetZero Contacts Agencies For $70 Mil. Ad Account

DALLAS NetZero is contacting agencies about its ad account, sources said. The Internet service provider spent nearly $70 million in U.S. measured media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Kansas City, Mo.-based independent Bernstein-Rein handles the business, and Steve Bernstein, the agency’s COO, said, “Our relationship is not in jeopardy at all. In fact, it is expanding.” He did not elaborate, and a client reprsentative declined comment. NetZero is a unit of United Online in Woodland Hills, Calif., which also owns other Web-based businesses such as Classmates, Juno and MyPoints. United Online also markets VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) telephone service through NetZero. Sources said no search consultant is involved, and that NetZero issued proposal requests to an undisclosed group of agencies. The search comes one year after United Online named Matt Wisk evp, chief marketing officer. Wisk, previously CMO at TiVo, also worked at Nokia for nine years, where he was vp, marketing.

Lowe N.Y. Puts Boyle in Charge Of Johnson & Johnson Creative

NEW YORK IPG’s Lowe has hired Barbara Boyle, a global creative director on Pampers and Tide at Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi, to fill its top creative post on Johnson & Johnson. Boyle, who assumes the title of global ecd, will report to Mark Wnek, CCO, chairman at Lowe in New York, where the account is based. Estimated worldwide billings on the business are $400 million. Boyle, who starts Sept. 21, succeeds Andy Langer, ex-worldwide vice chairman at Lowe who on June 1 became CCO at Omnicom’s Roberts & Tarlow here. (R&T also is a J&J roster shop and handles U.S. creative duties on Neutrogena.) J&J is among Lowe’s largest clients, along with Unilever and General Motors. Lowe New York handles J&J’s corporate image and baby products advertising. Wnek met with some 15 candidates and seriously considered four before selecting Boyle, an 11-year veteran of Saatchi. Langer’s “shoes aren’t easy to fill,” Wnek said, “but we’ve got a go at that” with Boyle.

Draft FCB Adds Merrill Lynch Direct Assignment

NEW YORK Draft FCB Group has joined the Merrill Lynch roster, winning the direct marketing portion of the client’s Total Merrill product portfolio following a review, sources said. Estimated revenue for the assignment is $5-10 million, said sources. A Draft FCB rep declined to comment. A message left for a client representative was not returned. JWT here and Boathouse in Waltham, Mass., have been the client’s lead creative shops in recent years. This is the second win in two weeks for the recently formed Draft FCB Group, which is in the process of integrating its U.S. and global operations following a decision by IPG to merge the two shops on June 1. The agency’s London office scored the network’s first win as a combined entity two weeks ago, landing global ad duties for Atari after a review. Atari, a division of Lyon, France-based Infogrames Entertainment, spent slightly more than $25 million globally on ads last year.

Cramer-Krasselt Recruits Hacohen as ECD in Chicago

CHICAGO Cramer-Krasselt said it has added former Lowe ecd Dean Hacohen to oversee the agency’s creative department here. Hacohen becomes ecd, reporting to Marshall Ross, CCO of the independent four-office agency network. “There’s so much opportunity here and so much around the network that I’m going to be out-of-pocket a lot and I needed someone who could be an executive creative director and hit the ground running,” Ross said. The hire is the second top-tier position the network has filled in the past 30 days. Last month, it hired Jeff Johnson, former CEO of WestWayne in Atlanta, as general manager of Cramer-Krasselt/Hampel Stefanides in New York. At C-K, Hacohen will supervise a 28-person department and guide efforts for clients such as, Corona beer, Effen vodka, Hyatt Hotels and KeyBank. Prior to leaving in July 2005, Hacohen was at Lowe for nine years following its acquisition of his previous employer, Goldsmith/Jeffrey.

Chrysler’s Employee Pricing, ‘Ask Dr. Z’ Remain on the Job

DETROIT The Chrysler Group said it would extend its employee pricing discounts on most 2006 models until Sept. 5, along with its “Ask Dr. Z” advertising campaign featuring CEO Dieter Zetsche. The campaign has thus far run only to support the discounts. The move comes as the carmaker disclosed that U.S. sales slid 34 percent in July from the same period a year ago. The falloff has been largely attributed to less enticing discounts versus last year, when a price war broke out among the Big Three carmakers, resulting in hard-to-top sales figures. The Chrysler discounts, which began on July 1, were originally set to expire July 31, but the drop in sales prompted Chrysler to extend the deals. The Dr. Z advertising campaign, via BBDO in Detroit, incorporates print, broadcast and Internet elements. Some analysts have criticized the work, saying it has sent a mixed message to consumers. But Chrysler officials held firm, insisting during a conference call last week with analysts that the Dr. Z ads are working.