Fiat Chrysler and Wieden & Kennedy Are Splitting Up

Mutual Breakup Ends a Six-Year Run That Included Iconic Campaigns

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'Imported from Detroit'
'Imported from Detroit' Credit: Chrysler/YouTube

Wieden & Kennedy and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are parting ways after a six-year run that included some of the most notable work in the automotive category, such as the iconic "Imported From Detroit" ads.

W&K had worked on brands across the FCA portfolio -- including Jeep and Maserati -- but was considered the agency-of-record for Chrysler and Dodge. The agency and automaker confirmed their breakup in a joint statement to Ad Age.

"Making your mark in the automotive category isn't easy. But we're damn proud of the one we made with FCA. We're even more proud of the company's turnaround. Parting ways is always hard, but sometimes it's just the right call. We wish FCA all the best," said Tom Blessington, managing director for Wieden & Kennedy, Portland.

"Since 2010, W&K and FCA have collaborated on memorable campaigns for many FCA brands," said Olivier Francois, chief marketing officer for FCA Global. "It has been a great partnership and as these things do go, it is now the right time for both the agency and FCA to seek other pursuits."

Asked about what is next for Chrysler and Dodge, an FCA spokeswoman said in an email that "FCA and W&K are still working together to wrap things up, to wind down the relationship. At this point in time, we have no announcements to make about a new AOR."

The move frees W&K to eventually pursue competing auto brands and it could emerge as a sought-after shop in the category.

FCA also confirmed that it is naming FCB, Chicago the official agency of record for its Fiat brand in North America, replacing The Richards Group, which remains the AOR for the Ram brand.

The split with W&K ends an era that led to several breakthrough campaigns. The list of standouts includes the Emmy-winning Super Bowl ad "Born of Fire" for Chrysler, which introduced the "Imported from Detroit" tagline. That was followed up with the 2012 Super Bowl ad "Halftime in America" starring Clint Eastwood.

On Dodge, W&K was behind ads that starred Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character, as well as the "Dodge Brothers" campaign that harkened back to the brand's founders John and Horace Dodge.

Recently, W&K created the "Premium to the People" campaign for Chrysler that uses an election theme and stars Martin Sheen, who played President Josiah Bartlett in the TV series "The West Wing," and Bill Pullman, who portrayed President Thomas J. Whitmore in the "Independence Day" movie.

The breakup comes as FCA has turned to a variety of agencies across its portfolio, often using several shops in a short time frame for a single brand. Recently gaining favor is Omnicom Group's DDB Chicago, which handled one of two Jeep ads that ran during the Super Bowl. The other Jeep ad was by Cheil Worldwide's Iris New York. Both shops are new to the FCA roster.

Mr. Francois has a reputation for shying away from relying on a single agency for all creative work for each brand. "We have no AOR for no one," he said in a January interview. "The advertising landscape is now so fragmented, so the needs are fragmented, too. If you multiply this fragmentation with the number of brands that we have to serve, clearly I think the worst answer would be one agency fits all. That doesn't work."

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