PentaMark gets its act together

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Mike Vogel has spent the last year at a monumental task: integrating three agency cultures into one at the same time his sole client, DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group, hired marketing executives that eventually led to a reorganization at the automaker.

Mr. Vogel is chairman-CEO of Omnicom Group's PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich., formed last fall after Omnicom snared Chrysler's $1.8 billion global consolidated creative and media account. Mr. Vogel came from the losing agency, True North Communications' FCB Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., where he was president-CEO.

He hired dozens of FCB staff, and blended those with Omnicom's BBDO Detroit-area employees along with its marketing-services subsidiary InterOne Marketing Group to form PentaMark out of the three agencies. The agency, which includes BBDO's PentaCom media planning and buying unit, employs 2,200 people globally."It's not like mergers are new to me," Mr. Vogel said. He spent much of his career working for current Chrysler brands, following the Chrysler business through several agency shifts and blending of teams, until Chrysler's Jeep and Plymouth brands eventually landed at FCB. However, this current remaking of Chrysler's agencies "is the slickest," he said.

He started staff meetings Jan 15. The daily and sometimes twice-daily sessions lasted three months as department heads sought input from virtually every employee on best practices and corporate culture. For example, thanks to a junior traffic assistant's comments on how to save time, 80% of that area was rearranged.

The agency is organized by brand teams for Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler, that encompass all disciplines, including media planners. The former agency offices used the more traditional setup of departments by disciplines. Some InterOne staffers, who handle customer relationship management, are part of the brand teams, along with media planners and business planners.

Other employees of the defunct InterOne now fall under the new area of dealer and retail support. Those two areas had been separate before, said Peter Swiecicki, exec VP-chief financial officer, who was chief financial officer of BBDO, Southfield. Event planning was moved from national advertising to this new area to ensure local reach.

Tim Copacia, former president of InterOne, is exec VP heading the new-business intelligence and consumer contact area. That unit handles strategic planning. InterOne had handled all of the Chrysler brands, while sibling BBDO handled work for Dodge and FCB worked on Jeep. Since FCB wasn't a sibling of InterOne, it took longer to resolve issues for the client and was more costly than under the new setup.

Creatives are assigned to each Chrysler division and vehicles, matching the marketer's brand structure announced in June.

"From a creative perspective, I love it. I don't have to run around to find people with expertise. They're already here," said Bill Morden, exec VP-chief creative officer who had the same title at FCB, Southfield. The new organization is "media neutral," he said, because the brand teams develop the best communications' solution for Chrysler.

The setup should provide "the likelihood of more collective development and communications strategy," said Jim Sanfilippo, exec VP of auto consultancy AMCI and a former car ad exec. He pointed to WPP Group's Y&R Cos., Irvine, Calif., as one of the first to merge creative with marketing services on Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln Mercury account a few years ago. That structure doesn't include national or global media buying.

PentaMark's servicing of the consolidated account has already saved the client tens of millions of dollars this year. Mr. Vogel said that was a goal of the consolidation.

Jeff Bell, VP-marketing communications at Chrysler, said that when he arrived in May, the agency had different creative for the same brands based on the medium. "The way they're organized now will help us have greater consistency and [brand] differentiation."

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