Search Goes On For DaimlerChrysler EVP

DaimlerChrysler dealers have strongly urged company management to stem the executive overhaul of recent weeks and look inside for a new Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge evp of global sales and marketing.

Dieter Zetsche, who took over as the automaker’s president following the ouster of Jim Holden two weeks ago, told the dealers at a meeting late last month that it will also consider external candidates to replace Ted Cunningham. Cunningham played an integral role in the company’s $2 billion advertising consolidation, but resigned two weeks after the process ended amid an executive housecleaning led by the automaker’s German parent. Zetsche said he hoped to have Cunningham’s job filled by early next year.

The dealers also urged Zetsche to retain Arthur “Bud” Liebler, svp, marketing, who built a strong relationship with dealers, said Tom Barenboim, owner of Clark Chrysler Jeep in Methuen, Mass., and chairman of the dealers’ council.

Amid turmoil that includes a lawsuit by the company’s third-largest shareholder, Kirk Kerkorian, several sources said marketing decisions are getting pushed back.

True North chairman David Bell met with Zetsche last week to discuss the review won by Omnicom’s BBDO. Bell, who has expressed dissatisfaction with how the review was conducted, requested another hearing, a source said. Zetsche told Bell the decision and review process stands firm, sources said.

TN remains in negotiations with executives BBDO has sought to recruit for the new PentaMark Worldwide. FCB’s Mike Vogel and Bill Morden are both hampered in making the move by their existing contracts. Some sources said that hang-up could be among elements that could spur renewed acquisition talks between the two holding companies.

At FCB’s Southfield, Mich., office, staffers are like “elves in the workshop,” working on résumés while waiting to hear if they’ll be offered employment at PentaMark, sources said. Staffers have yet to be told if the office will stay open after the client’s move to PentaMark is completed.