Chrysler Taps Meredith for Customer Relationship Management

Omnicom Loses One More Piece of Automaker's Business

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DETROIT ( -- Chrysler Group has tapped Meredith Integrated Marketing to manage all its customer relationship management initiatives in both the U.S. and Canada. The automaker said the deal extends an existing relationship with Meredith as a custom publisher and the team supporting Chrysler will be primarily based in Detroit.

Omnicom Group's BBDO Detroit, Troy, Mich., was the incumbent.

While it may seem unusual for an arm of a major publishing house to handle CRM, Meredith already does lots of CRM, database marketing and custom publishing for various clients. A Meredith spokesman told Advertising Age earlier this week that he would try to find out about the Chrysler assignment but did not respond again before Chrysler's announcement today.

Separately, Chrysler Group said Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann is its new media planning and buying agency for all its brands in North America after a review, as first reported Monday by Advertising Age.

The carmaker said that although the media appointment is effective immediately, Universal McCann will work with the incumbent, Omnicom's PHD, to transition the account through late January, when PHD's contract expires.

"As a new company with a brand-driven focus, we are looking for agencies that can deliver unique ideas and solutions to help us better communicate with consumers," Olivier Francois, president-CEO of the Chrysler vehicle brand and head of all the automaker's marketing, said in a prepared statement. "These changes will allow Chrysler greater efficiencies and flexibility in the use of its media across all four brands and at the retail level."

Omnicom's hold on the automaker's account started to unravel after Chrysler exited bankruptcy under new management from Italy's Fiat, which got a 20% stake in the company in a deal orchestrated by Uncle Sam.

The holding company's Organic is currently defending Chrysler Group's digital account in a pitch.

BBDO, Detroit, which handled national and regional dealer creative for all brands, plus provided a broad array of marketing services, will shutter the office in late January. The automaker is working with Richards Group, Dallas, for the new Ram truck brand creative; GlobalHue, Southfield, Mich., for Jeep; and Fallon, Minneapolis, for the Chrysler vehicle brand. ~ ~ ~
Contributing: Nat Ives

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