Whitcher to Saatchi

Clive Whitcher, part of the British vanguard of the ’80s that pioneered account planning in the U.S., has joined Saatchi & Saatchi Los Angeles as director of planning. It is the second high-powered hire the agency has made in recent months, having tapped former TBWA\Chiat\Day creative star Steve Rabosky as chief creative officer in July.

A self-described “car guy,” Whitcher will focus on the Toyota Motor Sales USA account at Saatchi. Over his career he has used his insights into consumer behavior to help advertise Ford, Porsche and Nissan.

Whitcher joined what was then Chiat/Day in 1982 to launch the shop’s account planning group on the West Coast. For a time he was international account liaison for Nissan at the agency. He left in 1997 to become an international consultant and recently did some work for Saatchi in that regard.

“Clive is the account planning leprechaun who comes up with fantastic solutions and incisive ideas,” said Steve Gilbert, CEO of the Torrance, Calif., agency. “We’re an ideas company, [and] we chose a guy who would further that culture.”

Mark Bilfield, Saatchi director of integrated marketing, worked with Whitcher at TBWA\C\D, and convinced him to freelance for Saatchi 18 months ago. Whitcher said he agreed to join full-time because of the “big changes going on here.”

“The new advertising is a testament to the fact that Toyota is making changes too,” he added.

Saatchi’s Southern California outpost handles an estimated $500 million-plus in billings from accounts including Toyota’s corporate account, Toyota dealer associations, Square Electronic Arts and Yonex Corp.