ISUZU PARTS WITH GOODBY

Troubled Automaker Shifts Account to Independent Malone Advertising

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- American Isuzu Motors has parted with its agency of 11 years, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and turned its advertising over to Akron, Ohio-based retail shop Malone Advertising.

Isuzu plans to announce the switch sometime this week, an executive with knowledge of the move said. A spokesman for the automaker declined comment.

New SUV campaign
Fred Bidwell, president-CEO of Malone Advertising, an independent agency, said the win is a "validation of our focus on retail marketing." Mr. Bidwell said his shop currently is working on a campaign to introduce Isuzu's new sport utility vehicle, the Ascender, which will replace the Trooper. The campaign, backed with a mix of TV, radio and newspaper ads, is scheduled to break at the end of the year.

Media planning and buying

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Mr. Bidwell said he currently has a one-employee service office in Los Angeles and has no plans to expand his California operations. Overall, Malone Advertising has $9 million in revenue and 95 employees.

For client Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Malone handles the non-tire business such as industrial rubber products and auto after-market products. (Goodby Silverstein, coincidentally, handles a branding account for Goodyear.)

Denied earlier reports
Last month, Jeff Goodby, co-chairman, and Colin Probert, president of Goodby Silverstein, denied reports they were planning on resigning the account. "We have no intention of resigning the business," Mr. Probert said at the time, adding that the shop felt a sense of loyalty to Isuzu, one of Goodby, Silverstein's first national accounts and one which helped put the agency on the map.

Goodby Silverstein earlier this year picked up a second car account, the $350 million General Motors Corp.'s Saturn Corp. account.

Over the years, Goodby Silverstein won numerous awards for its Isuzu work, such as one print campaign humorously touting the "unwritten rules of the road." Although Goodby Silverstein did not invent the "Joe Isuzu" campaign featuring a lying salesman, the agency in 2001 brought back the shameless pitchman in a series of spots.

Dwindling ad spending
Isuzu's ad spending has bottomed out to $16 million in measured media for the first six months of this year. The automaker has sold only 26,947 units in the U.S. in the first half of this year, and next year will halve production to 40,000. Isuzu sold 127,630 units at its 1986 peak.

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