Tag Archives: Commonwealth

GM Moves Chevy to McCann, Starts Caddy Review

Well, it was probably the worst kept secret around.

And General Motors finally confirmed it, announcing late in the day today (March 14) it was consolidating Chevrolet’s global account at IPG’s McCann Worldwide. Strangely, GM distributed the statement, which was attributed to McCann.

Whatever.

The bottom line is this: Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is out.

Goodby won the Chevy account in 2010 without a review shortly after the arrival of Joel Ewanick as CMO. Ewanick had worked with Goodby during his years heading Porsche marketing and also for a while at Hyundai.

Shortly before Ewanick was forced out last year, GM pushed Goodby into that silly 50-50 venture with McCann to handle Chevy, called Commonwealth. I predicted it was a bad idea to try to get 2 holding companies to work together.

http://autoadopolis.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/is-chevys-global-creative-solution-a-good-idea/

GM should have known better since it had tried it before on the media side… and it flopped.

Most AutoAdOpolis readers know I have not been a big fan of most of Goodby’s work. I don’t put all the blame on the agency because it has done some great work for other clients.

The smoke signals for Goodby’s demise really started billowing late last year when GM’s Alan Batey, interim CMO, (pictured below) moved oversight of the crucial Chevy Silverado launch to Publicis’ Leo Burnett.

aLANBatey

Burnett  also has GMC and Buick and one could certainly argue that work for those two brands hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire.

So one has to wonder why Batey chose to only fiddle with the agencies for only 2 of 4 GM US vehicle brands, essentially giving Burnett a free pass.

But even more curious is Batey’s timing.

After all, Tim Mahoney will start April 1 as GM’s newly-hired global CMO for Chevrolet. Mahoney, on vacation this month after leaving VW of America, will also be global GM marketing operations leader, indicating he’ll also oversee other car brands. He’ll report to Batey.

GM has been mum on whether Batey, also VP of sales and service in the US, will remain interim global CMO. So Mahoney could well be Batey’s successor. So, if Batey wanted to make some big moves and undo most of what Ewanick did, he knew he had to hurry.

But why not wait until Mahoney arrives?

Batey’s marketing power plays would have had to have been okayed from the top, since Batey reports to GM Chairman-CEO Dan Akerson.

This entire mess doesn’t portray GM in a very positive light.

What the hell are you guys thinking?

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Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Forbes.com and Facebook

On Twitter @jhal2001

Are Chevy Ads Finding New Roads?

Chevrolet recently introduced its new “Find New Roads” advertising tag with a splashy :90 TV commercial that broke during the Grammy Awards. The montage of cars, each with different music, is visually interesting. In case you missed it, here’s the spot from Chevy’s ad agency Commonwealth, a 50-50 joint venture of IPG’s McCann Erickson Worldwide and Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners

It’s good to see that General Motors’ biggest brand included the sexy Corvette in the commercial. But why are there no crossovers or pickups? Those segments are certainly a big part of the brand’s bread and butter these days. The scenes in the spot are pretty nifty. The robo dog is cool and who doesn’t like deer? The  first part of the Sonic section looks very much like a spot for retailer Target, another Grammy broadcast sponsor.

But the whole thing somehow doesn’t gel as one; doesn’t come together. Who is finding new roads? Where are the new roads?

What probably bothers me most is the boastful line “with the best lineup of vehicles ever….”

Memo to Chevy: Who said you have the best lineup ever? It’s better to use third-party ratings than pound on your chest with that blanket statement. Why? Because there’s plenty of skeptics out there and people are more likely to trust third party sources. Hopefully Chevy will have some testimonial ads touting its “best lineup” ever.

And say goodbye to Tim Allen as the voice of Chevy advertising. He was thrown out with the “Chevy Runs Deep” ad tag that lived for a little over two years, created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco. That’s OK, you can still hear the actor narrating ads for Campbell’s Soup. You’re now hearing John Cusack doing Chevrolet ad voice overs.

The second spot out there with the “Find New Roads” ad tag is for the 2013 Chevy Traverse.

Check out how the ad shows seating for 8, whether they are real or imaginary

Sorry, Chevy and Commonwealth, but this ad is awful close to Kia’s 2010 Super Bowl commercial for the Sorento, showing the critters from kids’  popular cable TV show Yo Gabba Gabba come to life

It certainly looks like Chevrolet and Commonwealth stole the idea from Kia and their ad agency DavidandGoliath. These sort of coincidences happen from time to time in this business. There was one season in the ’90s when 2 or 3 different car brands featured grocery store parking lots and shopping carts in their commercials.

The longer you’ve been in this business, the more examples of these coincidences you see. Here’s another one, this time it’s Kia, which in recent weeks broke a national spot for the 2014 Sorento. Check out how Kia touted the crossover’s power-folding mirrors and programmable power lift gate in a tight parking space

Of course lots of people would never jam their $23,000-to$33,000 new vehicle into such a tight spot. This Big Idea isn’t so fresh. Check out this commercial from WPP’s JWT (now TeamDetroit) for the 2000-model Ford Focus

And so it goes. If you’ve got any to add, please leave a comment and thanks for taking the time to read AutoAdOpolis.

MAKING TRACKS: General Motors has shifted Craig Bierley from ad director for Buick GMC to the same post at Cadillac. Craig, a Michigan native, has been with GM for 22-plus years, starting there as a financial analyst. He succeeds Molly Peck, who was moved last fall from the Caddy post to USA ad director of Chevrolet. The merry-go-round continues over there.

Follow me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Forbes.com

and on Twitter @jhal2001

Chevy Ads Run Deep/Shallow

General Motors’ volume Chevrolet brand is in the midst of advertising for two key car models: its newest-generation Malibu and the 2013 Spark.

Chevy says the Malibu is the auto industry’s longest-running mid-size nameplate, having first arrived in 1964 as the top model in Chevelle’s line. So the newest generation of the sedan in the competitive mid-size category deserves a top-shelf send-off.

The Spark mini car is aimed at a younger crowd who could be the next wave of loyal GM buyers.

Both cars have gotten decent reviews.

It’s not unusual for a mass-market car brand to have two very different kinds of campaigns for different models. The rub here is the blitz for the Malibu doesn’t do the car justice. The work out there, so far, is shallow. It doesn’t run deep. But the Spark campaign is much more creative and entertaining.

What’s puzzling is the work comes from the same ad agency- Commonwealth, which seems to have a split personality.

That’s entirely possible since Commonwealth was created earlier this year with a 50-50 venture between agencies from two different public holding companies: Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Interpublic Group of Cos.’ McCann Erickson Worldwide. Both ad agencies were already on GM’s roster, but this new entity is handling Chevrolet in most parts of the world.

The new Malibu campaign is in full swing. Check out this national Malibu television commercial, called “State of Mind”

 There’s nothing compelling about this commercial. It’s like Commonwealth just phoned in this car-on-road, B-roll video with narrator Tim Allen talking about product benefits. And what exactly is this mysterious “Malibu state of mind?”

Malibu is also chasing women shoppers with a separate, integrated blitz featuring fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi. He’s created his new Chevy Malibu collection, which he and Chevy are touting all over the internet in videos like this

His collection is now being sold on Living Social, which has good reach with 70 million members around the world. There’s also an online promotion offering a $5,000 shopping spree. Chevy’s marriage to Mizrahi is interesting to say the least. It’s certainly not the first time GM has partnered with a fashion designer. From 1996 through 2000, GM teamed with the Council of Fashion Designers for Concept:Cure, a fundraiser for breast cancer research. Every year several designers would get a single GM model from across its brands to rework with interior and exterior colors and fabrics. Chevy’s now-defunct Cavalier was a mainstay of Concept:Cure.

GM’s new media agency, Aegis Group’s Carat, put the deal together with Mizrahi. Time Inc. produced some 50 online videos for the blitz- yes 50!. The videos can be seen on Time-Warner’s stable of sites, which certainly makes the whole deal seem like a giant media buying deal, although the effort does include non-Time-Warner sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Mizrahi said “each piece of my capsule collection was inspired by the features of the car, from the leather seats that feel like they are hugging you, to the ice-blue interior lighting.”

That interior lighting color is the inspiration for his Malibu Blouse, a $140 robin-blue number made of silk crepe.

Mary Kubitskey, Malibu’s advertising manager, said “collaborating with Isaac Mizrahi on this collection has helped us speak to women who embrace style, but want a smart product to make their lives easier.”

Okay, but not sure how a $140 blouse will make anyone’s life easier.

There’s been some hand-wringing on LinkedIn auto groups that this tie-in positions the new Malibu as a “chick car.” Such fretting isn’t warranted, since Chevy is balancing media buys for the Malibu with heavy rotations during NFL and post-season MLB games. It’s doubtful most men will even catch onto the Malibu-Mizrahi marriage. Despite this, the whole tie-in seems a bit forced.

Let’s move onto the Spark.

The little city car, an import from GM’s South Korean operations, first arrived here in 2009. Chevy is now giving the 2013- model Spark a digital-only push, with no plans to take the videos to television.

Since the Spark is a global car, Chevy wanted the videos to have a global feel. So the campaign is themed “Importing our Export.” The first online videos of the 2013 blitz started on YouTube and Chevrolet.com/Spark, featuring ads from around the world.

Here’s one the first, called “Anthem”

The video is a compilation of online spots that are generally fun and engaging. I especially like this video, dubbed “Hurdy Gurdy” that touts the car’s movie-watching capabilities from the USB port

What a creative way to show off that feature!

Although the Spark is aimed at a younger crowd, some of the videos have a lot of cross-generational appeal.

Chevy said the campaign has already gotten over a million views and lots of positive feedback.

Commonwealth hits it out of the ball park for the Spark, but strikes out for the Malibu. A mass market car like the Malibu doesn’t and shouldn’t have to have bland, mass-market advertising.

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*This post first appeared in CNW’s monthly Retail Automotive Summary, a subscriber-only newsletter, as my AdRap column.

MAKING TRACKS: Stay tuned to see who will fill two major car marketing jobs in Detroit. Ford Motor Co. is looking for a marketing chief for Lincoln, after moving  C.J. O’Donnell, group marketing manager, to head marketing of Ford’s electric vehicles. And GM is looking for a global VP to oversee Chevrolet brand management, advertising, and marketing, with sales and service also expected to be part of the job. Earlier this month, GM tapped its lobbyist, Bob Ferguson, to that same newly-created global post at Cadillac. Currently Chris Perry heads Chevrolet marketing globally and is said to be a candidate for the newly-created job.

MAKING TRACKS UPDATE: Don Romano, former CMO of Mazda in North America and president of Mazda Canada,  is now managing director and CMO of  Toyota Saudi Arabia.

You can also find me, Jean Halliday, on LinkedIn, Facebook and Forbes.com

On Twitter: @jhal2001

Is Chevy’s “Global” Creative Solution A Good Idea?

General Motors’ Chevrolet brand certainly came up with an interesting solution to its so-called “global” creative review by inking a contract with two agencies from different massive holding companies. (as predicted here January 19)

http://autoadopolis.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/gms-global-gambits/

Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein and Partners in San Francisco and IPG’s McCann Erickson in New York formed a new 50-50 joint venture called Commonwealth to shepherd creative for GM’s biggest brand. GM was crowing that this is” the first of its kind” global venture and indeed it is. Hmmm- could there be some reason no other marketer has tried this before?

Let’s be clear on one thing: the account is not truly global, since it doesn’t include China, India or Uzbekistan, which are among the world’s biggest and fastest-growing car markets. GM CMO Joel Ewanick said in the phone press conference this week that China and India, both handled by McCann, “are investigating whether or nor they want to come along” under the Commonwealth tent.

Ewanick touted savings of more than $2 billion over the  next five years as a result of this creative consolidation from 70 shops PLUS GM’s recent global media consolidation to Carat, which is part of yet a third big holding company Aegis (More on that later).

Has the scope of the work really changed here for Chevrolet creative? Even if the same creative idea is used in several different markets around the globe, the ads will have to be reworked in other languages and GM’s legal beagles will have to be more involved. Commonwealth bring complexity, not simplicity, to the mix.

There was lots of happy talk during GM’s phone press conference from the involved agency partners. McCann Worldgroup Chairman Nick Brien, chairman and CEO, McCann Worldgroup, called the new Detroit-based shop “a unique opportunity… that will make sure Chevrolet has a global voice.”

Jeff Goodby,co-chairman and creative chief at Chevrolet’s USA agency, dubbed it “a great collaboration.” Goodby, whose shop was hand-picked by Ewanick for Chevy’s US creative account , admitted during the call that the interests of the top brass of the holding companies can “kind of be at odds with each other.” But, he added , that doesn’t extend down the corporate rank and since he knows all the McCann creatives who will be involved personally, “the egos will be checked at the door.”

Easier said than done. Anyone who has worked for an agency creative chief knows how they can be. It’s great these creatives from different agencies know one another. But that’s personal and this is business we’re talking about. I do think these guys will play well together – for a while at least anyway – for the sake of the client and the account.  But how long will it last if one agency’s work keeps winning? Will the egos stay at the door? Let’s be realistic I think not.

GM has tried this dual-company approach in the past, when it had its massive USA media planning and buying split between IPG and Publicis. At the time, GM’s brass said the holding companies’ two agencies would work well together. But in the end, to the surprise of no one but GM apparently, they didn’t play nice with each other at all. The automaker ended up consolidating its media business at Publicis, which just lost its US account to Aegis’ Carat after a global review.

GM’s dual media agency set up all happened before Ewanick arrived. Still, isn’t history there to teach us lessons, especially when things go wrong? It’s the old “live-and-learn” adage, which really just means we have to learn the hard way.

Adding Carat on media into the mix globally to work with Chevy’s hybrid creative agency owned by two other holding companies certainly has the potential to complicate things further. What are the best mediums to use in each country? And will the creatives and media folks agree? Who’s the referee here? If the bottom line determines the buys, will the creatives be happy?

I AM impressed with the creative firepower Commonwealth has assembled. Jeff Goodby is one of four creatives on the new agency’s board and will serve as Commonwealth’s creative chairman.

The other three are:

–Washington Olivetto, chairman of WMcCann and chief creative officer of McCann Worldgroup across Latin America and the Caribbean. Olivetto has won more than 50 Lions at Cannes in just the film category, elected  Advertising Man of the Century by the Latin American Advertising Agencies and in 2009 was inducted into the FIAP’s Hall of Fame of FIAP (Ibero-American Advertising Festival).

- Swede Linus Karlsson, who joined McCann earlier this year as chairman and chief creative officer of its Manhattan and London offices. Karlsson moved to the US in 1996 to work at Fallon in Minneapolis on brands like BMW and Miller Lite before co-founding the successful, indie New York shop Mother.

-Indian-born Prasoon Joshi, who, since late 2006 has been executive chairman for McCann Worldgroup India along with regional creative director-Asia Pacific. He started his ad career as a copywriter, but is also a Bollywood film songwriter, poet and screenwriter. In 2007 and 2008, he won the Filmfare Best Lyricist Award.

Here’s the foursome

(Left to Right: Olivetto; Goodby; Joshi; Karlsson)

Meanwhile, an interesting duo to watch will be the co-managing directors of Commonwealth in Detroit: Joe Garcia, president of McCann Midwest in suburban Detroit and Todd Grantham, Goodby’s account chief in San Fran, who will relocate to the Motor City.

Believe it or not I am rooting for this whole thing to work. I’d like to see Chevrolet get its act together and do well around the world. But the biggest challenge I see in this whole set is : It up simply flies in the face of human nature.

-Jean Halliday-

Follow me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Forbes.com

On Twitter: @jhal2001