GM Hands $270 Million Cadillac Account to BBH

With Its First Auto Client, Shop Likely to Take Brand in New Direction

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NEW YORK ( -- General Motors' Cadillac has chosen Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, as its new creative agency after a review that began in October, say execs familiar with the matter. The shop succeeds Boston-based indie Modernista, which worked on the account for three years.

The final round of the pitch was a three-way battle between Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle; Publicis, New York; and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency. GM evidently made a decision quickly, as final presentations have been taking place over the last two days. BBH and Publicis are said to have made presentations on Wednesday, while Martin Agency was the last to pitch, just yesterday afternoon. Consultancy Ark Advisors in New York was tapped by GM to manage the agency review.

Modernista was invited to re-pitch the account -- the agency's largest -- but declined, citing "creative and strategic differences." Earlier in the process, Omnicom Group's DDB, Chicago; Interpublic's Gotham; and independent McKinney, Durham, N.C., also pitched ideas, but were eliminated before the finals.

GM increased domestic measured-media spending behind its Cadillac brand for full year 2008 to nearly $270 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

This is the first auto account for the New York office of Bartle Bogle, which works with other brands such as Ally Bank and Google, and the shop is sure to take advertising for GM's luxury brand in a new direction from that established by Modernista. The outgoing agency had created campaigns that tried to bring an erotic, youthful allure to the brand, with celebrities such as Kate Walsh and music from modern bands like Phoenix.

GM has been making a flurry of changes related to its advertising initiatives -- both internally within the marketing suite and externally with the agencies it works with. Just last month, it shifted half of its Chevrolet creative account from Interpublic's Campbell-Ewald to Publicis in Seattle and Dallas. Publicis was tapped to handle Olympics work for three models, the Malibu, Traverse and Equinox.

Bartle Bogle was a finalist in Audi of America's review in 2006, and the agency's London office handles Audi in the U.K. In the Audi of America review, the agency pitched against incumbent McKinney, which had held the account from 1993 to 2006. The account is now with Venables, Bell & Partners.

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