Toyota: Xmas Pink Slips Are Saatchi’s Call

LOS ANGELES A representative for Toyota Motors said today that the departure of five creatives at Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi is “the agency’s business,” and did not come at the automaker’s direction.

Sources said the five creative directors laid off Wednesday [Adweek Online, Dec. 15] were: Steve Landrum (who joined in 1998) and Miles Turpin (who came from Lexus agency Team One), co-creative directors on Toyota Camry, Corolla, Avalon and Solara campaigns [Adweek, April 19]; Brett Ridgeway and Matt Bogen, creative directors who teamed on minivans and did recent work on the RAV4 [Adweek Online, Jan. 23]; and Doug Van Andel (who joined in 1989), whose work dates back to the relaunching of the Celica and MR2 Spyder.

More recently, Van Andel was instrumental in the development of Toyota’s Planet Kaizen and Land Cruiser Heritage Web sites. He won a 2002 gold Lion at Cannes as creative director of a series of 15-second Celica commercials, including a humorous spot in which a confused dog chases a fast-looking parked car. He also worked with executive creative director Harvey Marco on the Tacoma launch.

“In my 15 years, Saatchi was, by and large, good to me,” said Van Andel, declining to be specific about the circumstances that led to the week’s events. “But in the last two years, it’s been more of a struggle than I think is necessary.”

“I enjoyed being part of helping to make the work better and better at Saatchi,” said Landrum. “I wasn’t alone, of course, but I am proud of what I accomplished in that regard.”

Landrum said he was unaware of the reasons for the move. “I suppose the only one who knows the answer to that is somewhere in Paris right now.”