A Chrysler spokesman said the move was initiated by the Omnicom Group agency, not the automaker. Since going private after venture-capital firm Cerberus Capital Management acquired a majority stake a few months ago, the automaker has made no secret of its plans to cut costs.
Carmaker didn't object
Matt Seiler, president-CEO of PHD, told Advertising Age the plans have been in the works since June to end the redundancy of Chrysler's two national TV-buying groups, one in New York, the other in Detroit. He said he informed Chrysler CMO Deborah Wahl Meyer face-to-face about the plan, which "wasn't anything she objected to."
The change will affect only 15 staffers in PHD's Troy, Mich., office and an undisclosed number of them have been offered "the opportunity to move with the business to New York," Mr. Seiler said.
"Detroit is not the easiest place to find a job these days," he said.
The bigger issue is that the consolidation is another black eye for Detroit and its fading prominence. In the past, Detroit's automakers insisted their media agencies be nearby.
Chrysler bought $185 million worth of national TV media in the first seven months of 2007 and $609 million in calendar 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Planning stays put
Mr. O'Malley will remain at the helm of PHD Detroit, which keeps all planning, plus buying for print, digital and the hefty regional dealer ad groups, said Mr. Seifert. Mr. O'Malley did not return calls.
Mr. Seiler confirmed he was in town last week along with Omnicom CEO John Wren for a series of meetings with Chrysler executives. But he said those meetings were "totally unrelated" to the upcoming changes at PHD.