Cars and Concepts

LaNeve at Ford: A culture clash? Only when you talk pigskin

DETROIT -- Mark LaNeve and his new boss, Satish Korde, already have a big-league conflict.

"I follow football," says Korde, CEO of Team Detroit, Ford Motor Co.'s advertising agency.

But former General Motors ad boss Mark LaNeve played the game. He was a linebacker at the University of Virginia in the late 1970s.

LaNeve, 53, who grew up in Beaver Falls, Pa., is a lifelong fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But Korde, 62, who once lived in New York, laughingly jabs: "My Super Bowl team is the winning team, the New York Giants. Others will try to beat the Giants, but I think it will be difficult, even for the Steelers."

LaNeve laughs.

We're sitting in Korde's office in suburban Detroit. It's LaNeve's third day on the job as COO of WPP Global Team Ford.

It will be an interesting team.

Korde has a genteel air. He grew up in Mumbai, India, and speaks fluent English with a soft accent. He has a slight frame and is a voracious reader with a self-effacing sense of humor.

LaNeve, the son of a steelworker, speaks with a western Pennsylvania steel country accent in gruff, direct sentences. He's tall, looks like a former linebacker and has a back-slapping sense of humor.

I've known both of the executives for several years, and it seems surreal to see them working together.

But as long as it's not about pro football, it should be OK.