New Leadership Atop Chevy's Longtime Shop Campbell-Ewald

Soon-to-Be-Chief Ludwig to Continue Agency's New-Business Push While Defending Work for GM

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DETROIT ( -- Bill Ludwig will become Warren, Mich.-based Campbell-Ewald's chairman-CEO on Jan. 1, taking the reins of an advertising agency amid uncertainty over its biggest and oldest client, Chevrolet, according to a report from Crain's Detroit Business.

Bill Ludwig
Bill Ludwig
Mr. Ludwig, 54, currently the agency's chief creative and strategic officer, will replace Tony Hopp, who is retiring at the end of the year after 13 years in those roles, the agency said in a statement today.

Mr. Hopp, 64, has spent his entire 41-year advertising career with Campbell-Ewald and will remain a part-time employee through 2013 as a senior adviser for finances, business planning, strategy and problem solving for key clients.

Mr. Ludwig's immediate challenge will be guiding the agency as General Motors Co. continues to chart its own future since emerging from bankruptcy over the summer. That has included reducing its brands to four, with Chevrolet as the core, and redistributing its ad dollars.

Aggressively defending current work, such as Chevy, while pursuing a new slate of diverse clients has been the agency's plan for some time and will continue to be after the transition, Mr. Ludwig said.

"When we're in the hunt, there's no more formidable agency out there," he said.

GM, which first hired Campbell-Ewald as its Chevy agency of record in 1922, said in October that it will entertain pitches for certain Chevrolet assignments while C-E remains the agency of record.

That long history doesn't mean GM won't dump the agency if it doesn't deliver, Mr. Hopp said.

"The length of our relationship, and I've said this for 15 years, means nothing," he said. "This is all about performance."

Over the first nine months of 2009, Chevy's new U.S. vehicle sales were down 43%, to 987,912, compared to same period in 2008.

The automaker has spent $495.3 million on advertising the brand so far this year, compared to $795 million for all of 2008, according to ad spending trackers TNS Media Intelligence.

Campbell-Ewald has a stable of 35 clients, 22 of which are headquartered outside of Michigan. Other notable clients include the U.S. Navy, USAA, Buffalo Wild Wings, U.S. Mint, Olympic Paint, Kaiser Permanente and Carhartt.

Campbell-Ewald ranked third last year in overall revenue ($239 million) among metro Detroit advertising and marketing agencies in the annual Crain's Book of Lists.

Mr. Ludwig joined Campbell-Ewald in 1984 and most recently led its creative staff of 450 people in Warren and Los Angeles. The agency has about 1,100 employees.

Prior to joining C-E, he was with D'Arcy-MacManus Masius. In 1994, he was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Advertising Hall of Achievement, and he's also served as a Cannes juror, is a member of the Wall Street Journal's Creative Leaders and serves on the Ad Council.

"[Mr. Ludwig] really is a visionary is our business and in our industry," said Mr. Hopp, who began planning his retirement and executive transition in 2003.

The men first worked together, on the Chevy account, in 1986 and Mr. Hopp said his confidence in Mr. Ludwig made him his choice as successor.

"I have absolutely no doubt that this team, whether that I'm here or not, is going to deliver the most powerful marketing thinking and advertising and communications to Chevrolet," he said.

Campbell-Ewald is owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., and GM is Interpublic's No. 1 worldwide client, reportedly generating an estimated 5% of the advertising holding company's $6.9 billion revenue last year.

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