General Motors chief joins Bates

Jim Latham, former director of the World Cup for General Motors Europe (GM), which had an annual promotions budget of about $50m (&£30m), has joined Bates as director of sponsorship at its subsidiary 141 Communications.

Latham’s departure may have been influenced by the car maker’s decision to pull out of sponsoring both the Euro 2000 and World Cup 2002 football tournaments.

The company, which sponsored the 1998 World Cup, has changed its strategy and switched from tournament to club and national team sponsorship.

It is unclear at this stage whether Latham will be replaced at GM. Cony Spescha, co-ordinator for sports communications in Europe, is standing in for Latham while the company undergoes a restructure. Spescha says: “The structure here is a little unsure at the moment.”

Hyundai, a Bates Worldwide client, has stepped in to replace Opel as a sponsor of the 2002 tournament in Japan and Korea and is thought to be negotiating with Uefa to sponsor next year’s European Championship. It is likely that Latham will be involved in those negotiations.

GM has not taken up the option on the 2002 World Cup because as a European brand it does not sell in Asia and it decided that the estimated $40m price tag was too high.

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