The Garage, Team Mazda has hired agency veteran Erich Funke as its new chief creative officer, effective March 6.
“We are delighted to have Erich’s creative leadership at GTM,” said agency CEO and WPP Mazda global team leader Michael Buttlar. “As an integrated-team agency, we are equally excited about Erich’s reputation as an enthusiastic collaborator and skilled team-builder, both with his clients and within his own agency.”
South African native Funke most recently spent more than a decade as vp, creative director at the Los Angeles office of Saatchi & Saatchi. He brings more than 20 years of agency experience to the new role, with a particular expertise in auto marketing. While leading the Toyota creative team at Saatchi, he worked on both the 2012 Toyota Tundra Endeavor project and the brand’s 2013 Super Bowl effort “I Wish.”
Funke replaces Harvey Marco, who led The Garage from its launch in 2010 until his departure last September. In a subsequent LinkedIn note, Marco wrote: “After much reflection, I resigned to pursue an entirely new personal venture.”
“I’m thrilled and thankful to have the opportunity to join the GTM team and work on the Mazda business,” said Funke, who worked for Grey, JWT and TBWA in South Africa before moving to the United States in 2000 to work on the Infiniti account with TBWA\Chiat\Day. “I find Mazda to be an exciting brand with a really authentic and compelling story to tell. I look forward to working with GTM to continue to develop brave ideas for Mazda, big or small, with smart, strategic solutions.”
Throughout his career, Funke has won more than 80 awards from organizations like the Cannes Lions, the One Show and The Effies and led campaigns for such brands as Apple, BMW, Ford, Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz. The hire marks a return of sorts for Funke as Mazda was one of the first brands he worked on at TBWA Hunt Lascaris in the ’90s.