Leo Burnett Memo on Silverado Loss: GM Assured Us No Reflection of Our Work

'We're Losing Silverado but Keeping the Rest of Our Healthy GM Portfolio'

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Rich Stoddart
Rich Stoddart

Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett has lost the account for General Motors' Chevrolet Silverado to Interpublic's Commonwealth, the shop created in March 2012 as a joint venture between Omnicom's Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Interpublic Group of Cos. McCann, to handle Chevrolet. (Goodby later split from the venture.) GM moved the Silverado account to Burnett in 2012, partly to alleviate Commonwealth's workload as it geared up to handle work for more than 20 vehicles in 2013, the company said at the time.

Though Silverado's return to Commonwealth is a blow for Burnett, the agency will keep the rest of its GM account, including Buick and GMC.

A Chevrolet spokesman said in a statement that the brand wanted to simplify its roster:

In an effort to streamline business and ensure consistency, Chevrolet has decided to move the work for Silverado from Leo Burnett back to Commonwealth//McCann, the brand's agency of record.

The work was given to Leo Burnett to balance the unprecedented number of launches the brand had in 2013 during a time that Commonwealth//McCann was expanding globally to support Chevrolet. We've been very pleased with the work from Leo Burnett and wish them well as they continue their focus on GMC and Buick.

Ian Jones, exec VP and group account director at Leo Burnett Detroit, and Rich Stoddart, North American CEO, told staff about the loss in a memo Wednesday:

This is a very difficult day.

GM has decided to go through a consolidation. The outcome for us is unfortunate. We're losing Silverado but keeping the rest of our healthy GM portfolio.

The client has assured us that this isn't a reflection of the team or the work. We are both so proud of how you delivered big, brand-building ideas that really made a difference. Just a few highlights include:

  • "Romance" for Chevy was the most effective automotive spot for affinity on the 2014 Super Bowl
  • Our "Purple Roads" integrated effort that spotlighted World Cancer Day, also built around the 2014 Super Bowl, propelled Chevrolet to #1 Facebook fan acquisition and #1 in social audience impact, ahead of both Coke and Microsoft
  • The "Purple Roads" campaign also proved to be the most successful social media campaign in the history of GM
  • The summer 2013 launch campaign, "A Man And His Truck," was one the highest-ranked campaigns ever for the brand, according to Nielsen

We're also proud of how you grew and tended to this business. Sometimes, that's not enough. Sometimes, we are the victim of the client's business reality. Unfortunately for us, consolidation is their reality today.

GM remains a key client and a top priority for our company. Please stay focused on the work at hand as we manage through the 60-day transition and focus on our other GM brand opportunities.

Thank you for your passion, your creativity and your teamwork. Together we will get through this and continue to grow Leo Burnett Detroit.

Ian and Rich

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