Sanders/Wingo Wins African-American Duties for Chevy

But Incumbent Carol H. Williams Retains Hold on Hummer, Cadillac

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- General Motors Corp. started out with a review for the $35 million African-American account for Chevrolet, and ended up making several multicultural agency realignments.

Chevrolet today named Sanders/Wingo, El Paso, Texas, its agency of record for African American, urban and youth marketing after a review that included the incumbent, Carol H. Williams Advertising, Oakland, Calif.

Keeping Cadillac, Hummer
But the Williams agency, which was due to lose its African-American creative accounts for Cadillac and Hummer on Jan. 1 to the luxury brands' general market shop, Modernista, Boston, will keep those duties, along with urban and youth marketing. The agency also adds Saturn, Saab and GM corporate advertising at the end of the first quarter. Neither Saturn nor Saab had African-American agencies before, a GM spokeswoman said.

Translation Marketing, New York, will continue as a consultant to GM on multicultural-marketing activities. Translation was among the five finalists in Chevrolet's African-American review that presented Jan. 9, according to executives close to the matter.

GM declined to reveal contenders. Hasan Ramusevic, Raleigh, N.C., was the consultant for Chevrolet's review.

Last fall, when GM announced the multicultural agency shifts, the automaker let its general-market shops "pick up the slack" on African-American work as agency contracts expired and negotiations were settled, the spokeswoman said. The marketer decided to use Chevrolet's account review to help it decide on other brand assignments as part of GM's strategy to broaden its diversity agency assignments, she added.

Setting the record straight
The company was broadly criticized for what it called inaccurate reports that GM was parting with its multicultural agencies. Mark LaNeve, VP-vehicle sales, service and marketing for GM in North America, at the time said, "To set the record straight, General Motors is using, and will continue to use, African-American and Hispanic agencies to support its multicultural marketing activities for its brands as a fundamental strategic focus." He said GM's spending in both African-American and Hispanic media jumped sharply over the past several years, and that the automaker spends more than any other automotive company on diversity marketing.

"The Sanders/Wingo, Carol H. Williams and Translation marketing assignments are part of GM's strategy to expand our multicultural agency representation, covering all of our eight brands and aligning our agencies with our retail channels," Betsy Lazar, exec director-advertising and media operations at GM, said in a prepared statement.

Carol H. Williams did surrender the GMC brand, which it won in a 2002 review when GM consolidated its African-American accounts. Vigilante Advertising, New York, under Leo Burnett's umbrella, assumed duties on GMC early this month in a consolidation of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC division; the agency already had Buick and Pontiac's African-American accounts.