Chrysler Shifts Jeep Back to BBDO

Agency Lost Account to Omnicom Sibling Cutwater Two Years Ago

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DETROIT ( -- Chrysler, which just got a $4 billion federal bridge loan to keep it afloat, is moving the Jeep account back to BBDO, Detroit, effective immediately, a spokeswoman at the automaker confirmed.

BBDO lost Jeep's national and regional creative account almost two years ago to Omnicom Group sibling Cutwater, San Francisco, after the marketer invited several of the holding company's shops to pitch.

Not the budget it used to be
The account was Cutwater's first business and followed a year in which Chrysler had spent $330 million in measured media on the Jeep brand. But Jeep's ad budget was slashed in 2008, the worst U.S. new-vehicle sales year for the industry since the early 1980s. Chrysler spent only $108.6 million in U.S. measured media on the brand in the first 10 months 2008 vs. $244 million during the same period in 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

The marketer made the move "to maximize our efficiencies and effectiveness of our efforts going forward," said Steve Landry, senior VP-North American sales, marketing, and Mopar parts and service, in a prepared statement to Advertising Age.

Chrysler told select dealers about the shift this week.

Cutwater founder Chuck McBride declined to comment, as did a spokesman for BBDO.

Even with a broadened lineup, the all-SUV brand sold 333,901 units in the U.S. last year, a nearly 30% drop from 2007, when it sold 475,237 Jeeps, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Jeep's peak year was 1999, when it sold more than 544,000 vehicles and there were fewer SUV competitors. Jeep got slammed last year by consumers' exodus from large and midsize SUVs when gas prices hit new highs.

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