American Honda Motor Co. unexpectedly shook up its advertising mix by shifting its Acura auto division's $150-million brand and regional advertising work to Santa Monica-based Rubin Postaer & Associates from Suissa Miller Advertising of Los Angeles. Rubin Postaer, which already holds a $350-million ad account for the Honda division, will create a "separate and distinct" advertising campaign for Acura, Honda executives said. Honda tied the dramatic move, which occurred without a traditional agency review, to ongoing cost-cutting at the Torrance-based company that sells Hondas and upscale Acura automobiles. Such competitors as Infiniti and Lexus have enjoyed stronger sales in recent months than Acura, and Honda has been quietly blending business development units within Honda and Acura to improve operating margins. The shift represents a huge victory for Rubin Postaer, which has held the Honda brand advertising account for 25 years. Executives at Suissa Miller did not return telephone calls Tuesday.
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