Ewanick's Swift Advertising Account Shifts Continue at GM

Cadillac Agency BBH Learns of Marketing Exec's Roster Move From Press Reports

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Marketers are always looking for more efficient relationships with agencies, and General Motors Co. seems to have found a new one: Don't waste time telling shops they're fired when they can just read it in the press.

GM, under its new marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, has shifted ad duties on Cadillac to Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis, after just five months at Publicis-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, according to two people familiar with the matter. The news that GM was preparing to dump Bartle Bogle first appeared on AdAge.com yesterday, which was the first the incumbent had heard of it.

Said BBH CEO Greg Anderson: "We were extremely surprised to learn via the press yesterday that Cadillac has decided to move its advertising business elsewhere. That aside, we're pleased to have been a part of helping turn Cadillac sales around over the last several months. Incredibly strong sales like we've seen recently is exactly why we love doing what we do. We wish this iconic American brand the best and look forward to future partnerships in this dynamic category."

But Mr. Anderson ought to be glad, at least, that his agency actually got to do a little work before reading about its walking papers. Mr. Ewanick fired Publicis Worldwide earlier this month before holding a single meeting with the agency. And executives there, too, said they were miffed to read about their dismissal before receiving it. (Mr. Ewanick shifted ad duties on Chevrolet to Omnicom's Goodby Silverstein & Partners.)

Fallon, which spent the last half of the prior decade trying to get back into the auto category after its 2005 split with BMW, now finds itself essentially trading up, as it will likely have to resign the Chrysler business it won only last year to handle Cadillac.

Multiple calls to Fallon executives were not returned, and a GM spokesman said the company had no comment. Calls to three Chrysler spokespeople were also not immediately returned.

News broke yesterday that Mr. Ewanick was preparing to strip the Cadillac account from Bartle Bogle. The agency's first work made its debut in early May, just before Mr. Ewanick took over, though it was created under the auspices of former GM marketing chief Susan Docherty. The 30-second spots carried a new tagline, "Mark of Leadership," which replaced former agency Modernista's "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit." Mr. Ewanick is said to dislike the BBH tagline since the time of his arrival at GM.

Publicis Group owns all of Fallon and holds 49% of Bartle Bogle.

Cadillac spent $270 million on measured media last year, according to Kantar Media.

Remaining unscathed thus far into Mr. Ewanick's creative roster purge is Leo Burnett, which continues to handle the marketer's Buick and GMC brands. But Burnett might want to keep its trade subscriptions current, just in case.

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