In an unusual move, Chrysler is moving its $30 million ad account in Mexico to a U.S. Hispanic agency, Dallas-based Richards/Lerma, after a pitch in Mexico City.The Richards Group and its U.S. Hispanic division Richards/Lerma already handle Chrysler's Ram truck in the U.S., and Richards/Lerma took on the Ram business in Mexico two years ago, setting up a small 10-person satellite office in Mexico City.
So when Chrysler de Mexico started a review for its Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands, the automaker included Richards/Lerma in the pitch along with four Mexico City agencies.
Randy Ortiz, head of marketing and advertising at Chrysler de Mexico, said the company invited both incumbents familiar with the company and its processes, and new agencies who could bring a fresh approach. Richards/Lerma pitched against Y&R, Oveja Negra Lowe , Publicis Groupe's Marcel and local shop Made. One incumbent, Leo Burnett, decided not to participate. Media, handled by UM, wasn't part of the review.
Mr. Ortiz, who joined Chrysler in the U.S. from Wieden & Kennedy as a CRM and social-media expert, moved to Mexico last year and has worked with Richards/Lerma in both countries.
"They do a great job with Ram [in Mexico]," said Mr. Ortiz, referring to Richard/Lerma's creative work and strategic planning. "And they're very digitally savvy. I like that they always come to the table with new and unique ideas, and always have digital top of mind. They're always trying to think how they can increase our brand awareness, and they focus on how can we help you guys increase sales."
In the six-week review in Mexico, the automaker was open to splitting the four brands among different agencies, or hiring a single shop, he said. All five agencies were given the same assignment: to show how they would launch the all-new Jeep Cherokee.
Mr. Ortiz said Richards/Lerma "blew it out of the water" and the automaker decided the shop would do a great job with the three additional brands.
To handle the business, Richards/Lerma will triple the size of its Mexico City office to about 30, said Pete Lerma, the agency's founder and principal. Mr. Lerma and Aldo Quevedo, principal and creative director, will go back and forth. In fact, they are pitching a second account in Mexico, Mr. Lerma said.
"We're closer to Mexico than to New York," said Mr. Quevedo, a native of Mexico City. (A direct flight between Dallas and Mexico City takes just two hours and 10 minutes).
And it's not always necessary to be in Mexico, he said. He recently did a two-hour dealership meeting by Skype.
For the Ram truck business that Richards/Lerma already handles, the automaker uses the same slogan "A todo, con todo" ("To everything, with everything") and some of the same footage in both markets. Mexico, for instance, has used Colombian singer Juanes before, and a recent Juanes spot done for the U.S. Hispanic market may appear in a somewhat different version in Mexico.
Chrysler de Mexico is fourth among the country's Big Five automakers, ranking after Nissan, General Motors and Volkswagen and before Ford Motor Co. with about a 9% market share. The Chrysler, Dodge Jeep and Ram business that Richards/ Lerma won has a total budget of about $30 million, Mr. Ortiz said. The Ram business Richards/Lerma already handles accounts for about 17% of that total. Separately, about another $10 million is spent on parent Fiat's Fiat and Alfa Romeo brands, and Mitsubishi, which is distributed by Chrysler in Mexico, but those accounts are handled by other agencies and weren't part of the review.