Automaker Wants One Urban Voice; $40 Million in Work at Stake

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NEW YORK ( -- Chrysler Group threw $40 million in multicultural assignments into review as it seeks to change the way it communicates to ethnic consumers.

Instead of creating distinct messages for different groups, the automaker wants to speak to the multicultural market through a unified urban voice.

"We need to move away from solely dedicating our multicultural creative to Hispanic or African-American and move towards serving urban marketing in general," said Jeff Bell, vice president of marketing communications at DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group. "We are interested in popular culture, which is generated by the urban mind-set."

The bulk of the estimated $40 million in assignments is now split between

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Don Coleman to Become GlobalHue, a One-Stop Multicultural Shop
two agencies under GlobalHue, a multicultural holding company 49% owned by Interpublic Group of Cos. Don Coleman Advertising, Southfield, Mich., handles African-American ads, while Montemayor y Asociados, San Antonio, handles Hispanic marketing.

Don Coleman, president-CEO of Don Coleman Advertising, and Carlos Montemayor, president of Montemayor y Asociados, said in a statement that their agencies "intend to not only continue, but build upon our record of success in this category for many years to come." Coleman has handled Chrysler for eight years; Montemayor for 14.

Chrysler recently tapped Interpublic-backed Imada Wong for Asian campaigns for Liberty Jeep and Dodge Caravan. Mr. Bell said all three agencies have been invited to participate in the review. The automaker has contacted a handful of additional agencies, including shops backed by Interpublic, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group.

The review will be decided by June 1. Richard E. Robins in New York is the consultant. Media buying, handled by Omnicom Group's PHD, is not affected. Chrysler will also use the review to change how it compensates multicultural agencies, shifting from commissions to fees plus incentives.

Mr. Coleman formally reorganized his operation last week to change GlobalHue from a holding company to a "one-stop-shop for multicultural" with billings of $330 million. The Coleman and Montemayor shops will become divisions of an agency named GlobalHue.

New approach
Mr. Bell said the review is not about holding-company alignment, but a new approach for the automaker.

"Look at how Reebok is trying to go after Nike. They are trying to do it with an urban mind-set," Mr. Bell said.

Reebok's advertising agency is Omnicom's Arnell Group and its urban-marketing division PASS. Last year, Chrysler appointed Arnell and PASS to do creative development for Chrysler. President-CEO Peter Arnell declined to comment on whether the shop was invited to the review.

Staff writers Jean Halliday and Laurel Wentz contributed to this report.