Tag Archives: Publicis

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.


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.


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.


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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On Twitter @jhal2001

Chevy Runs Deep

Gotta admit I was skeptical when I first heard a few days ago that Chevrolet’s new ad tag was “Chevy Runs Deep.” What in the world does THAT mean? There were some immediate negative reactions in the online chat rooms that the line was mysterious and would never be as iconic as some of famous ones from Chevrolet’s long-time ad agency Campbell-Ewald – “Like a Rock” for trucks and the classic “See the USA in Your Chevrolet.” Cynics were saying Chevy was in deep all right.

But I changed my mind after sitting through this morning’s press conference in Detroit with GM’s US marketing chief Joel Ewanick, Chevy’s marketing VP Chris Perry and Jeff Goodby, co-chief of Chevy’s new agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. Seeing the new work obviously helped put the whole thing in perspective.

The first commercials in the new campaign show off Chevy’s 99-year U.S. heritage with a look to current models and the future. (Some footage was shot recently with vintage cameras to give them an old look). There’s an obvious attempt to tap into emotions, but it isn’t overly sappy. The positioning of Chevy as this country’s all-American car brand is done without waving the flag in your face. There IS a bit of chest-beating – like the line “This isn’t just any car company. This is Chevy.” But thankfully the ads don’t do too much of that and the narration of actor-comic Tim Allen helps.

Take a look at the :60 brand anthem commercial that’s breaking tonight during the World Series broadcast

The three other commercials are all :30s and are part of what Perry called “shared moments” of “those emotional events that kind of connect us as a society.” One shows owners posing proudly with their first Chevrolets. Another is of couples bringing their newborns home in their cars, with Mississippi John Hurt’s soulful rendition of “You are my Sunshine.” The final spot, for Chevy pickups, is a montage of dogs in the trucks, with Hank Williams’ “Move it On Over” (his first big hit in 1947).

There’s not a lot of narration from Tim Allen in those three commercials and that works fine.

The out-of-home posters are so cool that lots of people are really going to want them. I’ll be first in line! There’s also digital, print and social media.

It’s good to see Chevy making a serious play in the ad game after more than a year of ad agency turmoil and insanity. GM needs Chevrolet to do well. Chevy accounts for 7 out of every 10 new vehicles GM sells, Ewanick said today.

Before you criticize “Chevy Runs Deep” remember what Publicis, and Chevy’s old management had planned for an ad tag- “Excellence For All.” Ewanick dumped both the agency and the tag and hired Goodby, Silverstein, which now has roughly 100 people working on the account in Detroit. (See my May 26 post “New Era for GM Advertising?)

We weren’t a fan of Campbell-Ewald’s “American Revolution” campaign that started in 2003, but have reason to believe it was driven by the client. Regular readers know how I felt about Howie Long in Chevy ads and glad to see him gone. (nothing personal, Howie )

“A lot of pressure is put on tag lines,” but they’re all about context, Jeff Goodby said today. “You have to let these develop.”

I know what he means. After Goodby won the Hyundai account in spring 2007 (Ewanick was Hyundai’s marketing VP then) the first big blitz the agency did was a shocker- carless car commercials that asked viewers to “Think About It” and visit the web site of the same name.

I wasn’t an early fan and neither were Hyundai dealers. But after a short time we all got the message and Hyundai is still using that ad tag today.

Stay tuned.

MAKING TRACKS: Michael Jackson, hired in January by CODA Automotive as senior vice president of global sales and distribution, has left the electric-car maker.


Ewanick Shifts Gears on Caddy

Joel Ewanick is proving he’s not a patient man.
Arriving a little over a month ago as GM’s new VP-marketing, Ewanick is moving Cadillac’s account- for the second time in six months. Ewanick inherited Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, hired after a review in January to replace independent Modernista, Boston.
BBH’s work looked more like music videos than ads for new models, which got lost in the executions.

BBH\’s Cadillac commercial
Cadillac deserves better than this. The once-iconic luxury brand was once the “Standard of the World” and had been starting its climb back up the mountain until GM hit the skids.
The truth is the industry grapevine had been buzzing well BEFORE Joel’s arrival that there was friction on the account, so much so that the Cadillac folks brought in veteran car creative Gary Topolewski to help out BBH. No surprise there since Caddy exec director-advertising Kim Brink (aka Kosak) and her boss, Susan Docherty, then VP-marketing of North America, had worked with Gary during their gigs earlier this decade in advertising at the brand when he was creative chief at Caddy’s agency, D’Arcy, Masius, Benton & Bowles in Troy, Michigan.
Those were heady days for Cadillac, which was enjoying a product renaissance with slicker new products and running its “Break Through” ad blitz featuring Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll.”
Ewanick is moving the account to Fallon, Minneapolis, as first reported this morning by Adweek, although a GM spokeswoman declined any comment on the matter at mid-day June 24.
Since both Fallon and BBH are part of Publicis Groupe, the move is a wash in terms of revenues for the holding company, albeit a major embarrassment.
The move means Fallon will have to resign the Chrysler brand, which it won in January, and throws another piece of Detroit business up in the air.
Ewanick already moved Chevrolet’s account to Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco without a review. Ewanick worked with Goodby during his nearly 9 years as general marketing manager of Porsche Cars North America and he worked with the agency during his tenure at Hyundai. He also worked with Fallon, which lost the Porsche account to Goodby in 1993.
Fallon had a pretty decent track record during its 10-year run as BMW’s agency of record, which lasted until 2005, when a management shift at the client sparked an agency review and the agency resigned over the matter. Fallon was the brains behind BMW’s “The Hire” online film series that set a high bar in that category.
Hopefully lightning will strike again for Fallon on Cadillac.

MAKING TRACKS: On June 23, Russell Wager left David&Goliath, Kia’s U.S. creative ad agency, where he had been a managing partner since late 2006 on the car account. He’s moving from California to Japan, where he will start July 5 at TBWA/Hakuhodo in Tokyo on Nissan and Infiniti. Wager spent 13 years at TBWA’s Playa del Rey, California office as a partner-account director overseeing the Nissan and Infiniti account.

GM’s $1.6 Billion Question

With Joel Ewanick, General Motors’ new VP-marketing, evaluating all four of the carmaker’s vehicle brand positions and messaging, this seems like a good time to also revisit media.
The “old” GM consolidated all of its media planning a decade ago at Publicis Groupe from its 17 different creative agencies to streamline things and to make better and faster decisions. The auto giant was then in a consolidating mood, breaking down the sales and marketing silos internally for its own vehicle divisions and relocating everyone in the Tubes’ world headquarters along the Detroit River.
In 2005, Publicis’ Starcom MediaVest Group won GM’s media buying account in a shootout against incumbent IPG. GM was then spending $3.5 billion annually on national and regional dealer group advertising. That fell to $2 billion in 2008 and $1.6 billion last year, says Nielsen.
The consolidated media move was supposed to insure that ads for different GM brands wouldn’t still show up in the same magazines or same TV shows. But that was still happening as recently as last fall when similar-looking “May the Best Car Win” spreads for two different GM brands showed up in the same issues of Newsweek and BusinessWeek. GM called it a “miscommunication in traffic instructions” at the time. But GM was just filling the ad holes Publicis bought.
Today the media set-up is broken for the leaner “new” General Motors Co., which will celebrate a year out of bankruptcy reorganization July 10. Starcom takes a shopping basket to buy media by the pound on the open market and then tries to parcel it out to the GM divisions. That system prevents GM from optimally reaching its target customers. The media agency will sometimes coerce a vehicle brand to expand a car’s target to find a home for already-purchased media inventory.
On a positive note, Starcom’s media buys for GM are very cost effective. But the buys don’t always align with the brand strategies.
No disrespect to Starcom, but planning should be returned to the creative agencies.
So, what do you think, Joel?
Time for a change?

New Era For GM Advertising?

There’s been a whole lot of tongues wagging in the industry over the hiring of Joel Ewanick as General Motors’ new U.S. marketing chief. Let’s just say GM needs the kind of help Ewanick can bring to the table and leave it at that.
Plus – the grapevine has been buzzing with his swift move to hire Omnicom Group’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for Chevy’s new national creative agency.
Publicis, which first got a six-month contract last December for Chevy cars, won the entire account from Chevy’s 91-year shop IPG’s Campbell-Ewald without a review about a month ago. But that was BJ – Before Joel, who has been accused of pulling the rug out from under Publicis Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy & company.
Not so fast. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Levy worked his magic behind the scenes in 2007 by convincing GM CEO Rick Wagoner to consolidate Buick and GMC at Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett network from IPG’s McCann Erickson and Lowe respectively. He told me last month he also pow-wowed with GM leaders this time around to capture all of Chevy from IPG. You can bet the Publicis bunch was high-fiving over that one. Again that was BJ.
And how was the work Publicis did for Chevy cars during the Olympics that helped it bag the entire account? You be the judge

And Publicis, with Chevy’s blessing mind you, was about to switch the brand’s ad tag to “Excellence for All,” lambasted by Autoextremist.com as being a horrendous move for the brand. How could it be that no one at Publicis, or inside Chevy or high up at GM for that matter, had the giblets to question that line?

Thankfully, Ewanick has scrubbed the line for good, also erasing it from a new commercial Publicis created for Chevrolet that broke this week, a much better effort by the agency, I must say.

The problem with the way Publicis was going to handle Chevy was via four different offices, each with a different creative chief, which had been OK with Ewanick’s predecessor. But insiders at Chevy were already questioning how that set up could work, ie, it was a recipe for disaster.

Meantime, stay tuned for the first Chevrolet work from Goodby within weeks.

We are looking forward to it!