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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has named DDB Chicago the agency-of-record for Jeep and Alfa Romeo in the U.S. The automaker confirmed the selection in a brief statement today as it continues to reshape its agency roster.
DDB was first added to FCA's roster earlier this year, originally for Alfa Romeo. At the time, FCB was added to the roster to handle a significant chunk of the Jeep work, as well as Fiat. But things appeared to change quickly on the Jeep front, as DDB created one of two Jeep ads that ran in the Super Bow called "4x4Ever." The other spot was created by Cheil Worldwide's Iris New York. The brand has also worked with Translation in recent months.
FCA spent $280.6 million in measured media on Jeep in 2015 and $5.3 million on Alfa Romeo, according to Kantar Media.
Thursday's statement cements DDB's status as the favored agency for the high-profile and hot-selling brand, which is getting a lot of investment in 2016 as part of efforts to mark its 75th anniversary.
Representatives for DDB and FCB declined to comment.
The use of the phrase agency-of-record is also notable, considering that FCA-Global Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois tends to shy away from such characterizations. As recently as last month, the automaker declined to confirm DDB as Jeep agency of record, when asked by Ad Age. And in January, Mr. Francois in an interview said that "we have no AOR for no one," noting the fragmentation of the advertising landscape required multiple agencies.
Still, according to people familiar with FCA's marketing practices, agencies on the roster will compete in jumpballs for high-profile projects for most, if not all, of FCA's brands. DDB's status as agency-of-record means it will now handle the day-to-day work for Jeep, these people said. Likewise, FCB will handle day-to-day work for Fiat.
The move comes after the automaker confirmed on March 1 that it was cutting ties with Wieden & Kennedy Portland, which had been lead agency for the Chrysler and Dodge brands. FCA also confirmed FCB Chicago's status as the official agency of record for its Fiat brand in North America, replacing The Richards Group, which remains the AOR for the Ram brand.
Jeep has benefited from an industry-wide boom in sales of trucks and SUVs that has been propelled in part by low gas prices. Jeep sales in the U.S. surged by 22.6% in February, according to figures compiled by Automotive News.