Chrysler Not in a Rush to Replace Fallon

More Pressing Matters, Like the U.S. Launch of Fiat, Await Car Maker

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Even though Chrysler and Publicis Groupe's Fallon split suddenly last week, industry experts say the car maker is in no rush to find a new shop to handle Chrysler brand advertising.

Later this year Chrysler will reintroduce the Fiat brand in the U.S. after more than 25 years with the new Fiat 500.
Later this year Chrysler will reintroduce the Fiat brand in the U.S. after more than 25 years with the new Fiat 500.
For one thing, it has work banked from Minneapolis-based Fallon that is currently running in both local and national markets. A spokeswoman for the company would only say this: "At this time, creative work for Chrysler brand product is current and up to date."

For another thing, it doesn't have any Chrysler brand launches imminently; the new Town & Country van doesn't debut until later this year, while the next iteration of the Chrysler 300 won't bow until first quarter of 2011.

Before that, it'll need to decide which agency it will hire to handle the reintroduction of the Fiat brand in the U.S. after more than 25 years. On Monday, Chrysler announced it has already begun a selection process to set up dealerships in 41 states that would begin selling the Fiat 500 in the back-half of 2010, and the Fiat 500 Cabrio in 2011.

Still, the company isn't ignoring the hole in its agency roster for the Chrysler brand altogether.

Executives familiar with the situation said the car maker has already reached out to roster shops as well as some non-roster agencies to be engaged on the brand.

If it were to lean on a roster shop, it wouldn't be a shock if Wieden & Kennedy was at the top of the list; it's already become a fast favorite of marketing executive Olivier Francois, people familiar with the company say. He tapped the Portland, Ore.-based independent to launch the Hemi-powered Dodge Charger and craft a Super Bowl ad for the car, and also sidestepped Jeep's agency of record, GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich., to begin marketing the new Jeep Grand Cherokee last month.

Finding a shop that's open in the auto category might prove more difficult among larger agencies, as many in the past year have taken on new car business. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch handles Volkswagen now, and Omnicom Group's 180 was recently tasked to take on Mitsubishi. Some that are still available to work in the category include MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky, and Interpublic's Martin Agency.

Chrysler spent more than $150 million on measured media in 2009, according to Kantar Media data.

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