Saatchi Makes Key Media Hires

Looking to make what CEO Scott Gilbert called “the strongest possible statement” about the role of media in a full-service agency, Toyota shop Saatchi & Saatchi in Torrance, Calif., has recruited two well-known automotive media executives.

Bonnie Chan, communications director at Team One, will join Saatchi on Nov. 1 as integrated communications director, a new post. Automotive media veteran Jim Helberg, most recently vp/corporate sales for Time Inc. here, will arrive Oct. 7 as director of media operations.

The arrivals follow the departure in September of media director Emily Weiss, who joined Dailey & Associates. Gilbert said the hires demonstrate that “media planning is integral to what we do … onsite and fully involved.” (Publicis Groupe sibling Zenith Media, New York, does broadcast buying for Saatchi’s clients, including Toyota. Saatchi buys print.)

Chan, 50, will coordinate integrated efforts with the agency’s media, interactive and lifestyle-marketing groups. She held a similar position at Team One after it restructured its media operations in January 2001, forming what it called a communications department, which, among other things, developed an integrated plan for the Lexus ES that encouraged consumers to build their own commercials on the Lexus Web site.

In the past two years, Chan’s group at Team One won a Cannes media Lion and was a finalist for two others.

“I’m a very restless person, always looking for new challenges,” said Chan. “The Saatchi job presented the biggest challenge ever. We built a strong team and a great client relationship at Team One, and I felt my job was done. It was time to make a bigger impact elsewhere.”

Helberg, 41, has worked on Mazda, Mitsubishi and Honda at Foote, Cone & Belding, Rubin Postaer and Associates and Grey. He joined Time in 1998 and worked with Gilbert on a 2001 integrated program for the Camry relaunch.

“I was in an incredibly great job at Time Inc. and was using my experience to harness the resources of the largest media company in the world from the inside,” he said. “But the reality is, I was raised in the agency business, mostly automotive, and this job is the summit of both.”