McCann redirects Buick work to New Yorkers

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McCann-Erickson Worldwide's Troy, Mich., office has turned to New York headquarters to help service virtually every aspect of its $252 million Buick account.

General Motors Corp. is McCann's largest client, representing more than $1 billion in billings worldwide, with work for Buick, Opel and Chevrolet. Last year, McCann's Troy office lost GM's $70 million GMC Trucks business to Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York.

NEW YORK OVERSIGHT

Three people in New York are now overseeing Buick's creative, strategic planning and relationship marketing. Jonathan Cranin, deputy creative director of the office, in January added the new title of chief creative officer-GM USA. He now spends two to three days each week in Detroit.

Mr. Cranin earlier had done some work for the Buick Riviera; his execution was picked for the '97 Riviera campaign. He also created the division's $20 million brand campaign that broke in January.

Exec VP Gunnar Wilmot, who heads McCann's Troy office, last week tried to dispel talk that the agency is in trouble on the account.

"That is absolutely and totally not true," he said. "We are proactively raising the bar" on Buick creative and account service.

`A LITTLE ANGST'

He admitted the changes "may be creating a little angst" at the Detroit-area office.

The client also said the relationship was in no danger.

"Buick has had a long-standing relationship with McCann [since 1958] and expects to continue that relationship going forward," said Karen Ebben, marketing services manager at Buick. "We are impressed with McCann's enthusiasm for our brand strategies."

McCann relocated Mr. Wilmot to Troy in January 1997 from its Frankfurt office, which he had managed. The executive said it's "very, very routine" to access resources from other McCann offices, a practice growing in North America since John Dooner took the reins of McCann as its worldwide chairman-CEO.

"We're just putting the best people on the business," Mr. Wilmot added. "It's an advantage of our [agency] network."

TRADING RESOURCES

Mr. Cranin agreed that McCann offices "trade resources all the time," citing the recent MasterCard International win for New York, thanks to help from the Toronto office.

McCann's Detroit-area office last turned to the agency network for GM creative in 1992, when its New York office did the $70 million-plus launch campaign for the GM Card.

Mr. Wilmot said he has taken over as managing director on the Buick account. Ander Wensberg, the previous managing director, was promoted in March to group account director on Motorola, and relocated to New York.

Eric Einhorn, exec VP-director of strategic management in McCann's New York office, also began overseeing strategic planning for Buick early this year. Mr. Einhorn is working closely with Dann Balesky, senior VP-research director in Troy. Mr. Balesky had worked on the GMC account.

About a month ago, the relationship-marketing work was moved to the New York office for improved efficiency, said Mr. Wilmot. Senior VP-Group Director Tracey Owens supervises that work at McCann Relationship Marketing.

Jean Umholtz, director of relationship marketing at the Troy office, moved to sister Interpublic Group of Cos. shop Campbell-Ewald, in Warren, Mich., which handles GM's Chevrolet brand.

Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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