Starcom wins Fiat Chrysler media account in North America

Incumbent is Interpublic Group of Cos.' UM

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Credit: Courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has tapped Publicis Groupe's Starcom to take over its North America account — the latest of many agency shifts among major auto brands in recent months. The incumbent is Interpublic Group of Cos.' UM.

FCA confirmed the selection of Starcom as its new lead media and social media agency in the region in a statement Thursday.

Ad Age first reported the news of the review in May, when FCA said it was requesting quotes for its media agency services as part of a bid process that would include UM.

UM has worked on the business since late 2009, when it picked up Chrysler as the automaker was emerging from bankruptcy. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was formed in 2014 after Italy-based Fiat acquired 100% ownership of Michigan-based Chrysler Group.

In a memo sent out Thursday, UM Global CEO Daryl Lee said the agency had been alerted that day it had not retained the business in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

"This is a hard decision to accept as we didn't lose this pitch for any of the traditional reasons," he wrote. "We didn't lose it based on our product, our people, our pricing or our proposal for the NAFTA region. All of which we had official feedback were more than competitive. We just had a client that in the end felt that making a change would be good for them."

FCA was pushing for extended payment terms of at least 120 days during the review, according to people familiar with the matter.

FCA ranked as the 18th largest advertising spender in the U.S. for Ad Age Datacenter's 200 Leading National Advertisers list for 2018. The marketer spent an estimated $2 billion in U.S. advertising in 2017.

FCA reported a 17 percent U.S. sales gain in November, powered by its Jeep and Ram brands. The automaker has been operating under new leadership since July when Mike Manley took over as CEO from the then-gravely ill CEO Sergio Marchionne, who died shortly after the leadership change. Oliver Francois has remained in the role as global chief marketing officer amid the management changes. FCA is known for cycling its creative ad work among several ad agencies, including DDB Chicago, Doner, Richards Group, GSD&M and FCB Chicago.

FCA's move follows other recent major agency changes by automakers. Ford in October tapped BBDO as its lead global creative agency, demoting WPP's GTB. Volkswagen also recently selected WPP to handle its creative account in North America following a seven-month global agency review; IPG's Deutsch was the U.S. incumbent.

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