Ritter, Anderman, Turner to Top Saatchi L.A.

LOS ANGELES Saatchi & Saatchi has tapped a trio of executives with considerable car experience to oversee its Toyota flagship office in Torrance, Calif.

Kurt Ritter, 53, joins the Publicis Groupe unit as ceo from General Motors in Detroit, where he was general manager of GM’s new Buick-Pontiac-GMC division. Ritter resigned from his post at GM today.

Rich Anderman, 52, was named managing director and coo. He had been with Merkley Newman Harty and Partners, New York, as a senior account executive.

Mark Turner, 40, was named planning director for Toyota in North America from WPP Group’s Young & Rubicam, Irvine, Calif., where he had been strategic planning director.

“Sustaining peak performance in brand development and sales [for Toyota] is our number one challenge,” said Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide ceo Kevin Roberts in a statement. “We handpicked our dream team to help us deliver on that challenge for Toyota.”

Ritter, a 32-year GM veteran, will report to Roberts. Anderman reports to Ritter and he is coming home to Southern California, where he was part of the team that launched Toyota’s Lexus division in 1989. Turner also reports to Ritter; he led planning efforts for Y&R’s Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Land Rover, Sony and Mattel accounts.

Ritter and Anderman effectively replace Scott Gilbert, who will become a managing partner of Saatchi’s New York office in May. The search continues for a new director of media operations after Jim Helberg’s departure last week.

GM representative Pete Ternes said Ritter will leave GM effective April 30. Ritter had been at Chevrolet in various positions ending as general marketing manager prior to his March 1 appointment to oversee Buick-Pontiac-GM.

Roger Adams will reassume responsibility for Buick until further notice while continuing to direct GM Customer Network activities, Ternes said. Adams, who was previously Buick general marketing manager, had been appointed vp of the newly former GM Customer Network last month. Lynn Myers continues as general marketing manager of Pontiac-GM, a position retained under the new structure.

GM dealers were informed of the changes this afternoon in a call from Adams. Ritter announced his resignation internally this morning, Ternes said.

Ritter could not be reached for comment.

The resignation was “a surprise” and there was no indication Ritter was unhappy in the new position, said one GM executive, speaking on terms of anonymity. “He seemed quite energized by it.”