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Episode Seven: Man And Machine
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According to people familiar with the matter, FCB Chicago is poised to pick up a significant amount of work for both Jeep and Fiat, and it's believed that DDB Chicago is set to be the lead agency for Alfa Romeo in the U.S. only. The marketer also recently tapped Translation for a Jeep global assignment.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA, brands include Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Maserati. The company ranks as the 8th-largest U.S. ad spender, shelling out $2.25 billion in 2015, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.
The automaker has a habit of having many of its roster agencies pitch work for any of its brands. So while FCB may be considered to carry the workload on Jeep and Fiat in the near term, other agencies will likely handle work as well.
A Fiat Chrysler spokeswoman declined to comment Friday evening about potential agency additions. Representatives for FCB and DDB declined to comment.
In an interview on Friday afternoon, FCA-Global Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois declined to discuss agency specifics on the Jeep brand. "We are going to be more prolific than ever in 2016 with the Jeep creative, that's what I can tell you," he said, noting that the brand is celebrating its 75th anniversay in 2016. "We have a lot of high-quality material to be featured over this very important year for the brand."
Mr. Francois has been public about the fact that he has eschewed the agency-of-record model in favor of having a roster of agencies that often compete for assignments. He reiterated his views Friday: "We have no AOR for no one," he said. "The advertising landscape is now so fragmented, so the needs are fragmented, too. If you multiply this fragmentation with the number of brands that we have to serve, clearly I think the worst answer would be one agency fits all. That doesn't work."
He and his marketing group have been asking agencies to participate in jump-ball pitches for various brands, in some cases by make or model, according to people familiar with the matter. The company will sometimes invite agencies on one brand to pitch for another, or even invite outside agencies to throw in ideas. People familiar with FCA said that the pitches are internally led.
DDB has already done work for Alfa Romeo. A video was debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show a few months back. Other creative agencies on the Fiat Chrysler roster include Wieden & Kennedy, McGarryBowen, Doner Armando Testa and Richards Group. The company also works with Huge, George P. Johnson and UM.
FCA as it exists now was formed in January 2014 after Fiat, the automaker based in Turin, Italy, acquired 100% ownership of Chrysler Group. Fiat first bought a majority stake of Chrysler Group in 2009.
The company this week reported that 2015 annual sales jumped 7% in 2015. Jeep sales surged 42% in December, the brand's best monthly sales gain ever, as low gas prices continue to help spur truck and SUV brands across the industry.
Jeep reached out to agencies as far back as last summer, when, according to people familiar with the matter, the marketer was looking for a lead agency. The move that came after it parted ways with GlobalHue. At the time, a spokeswoman said: "I can confirm that FCA U.S. has, or will be issuing, creative briefs for AOR agencies for Alfa Romeo and Jeep brands."
FCA is a well-known Super Bowl advertiser, thought it was not immediately clear whether the company was marketing in this year's game.