GM shops for an agency for its Hummer brand

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General Motors Corp.'s Hummer brand will start an ad agency review this month.

Hummer is completing a list of about five agencies to consider that will include its current agency, Pyro Brand Development, Dallas, and possibly other agencies already doing GM work, said Marc Hernandez, manager of brand development for Hummer. Mr. Hernandez's team and GM corporate advertising are collaborating on the list.

"The real rationale for review is that they [Pyro] have been part of the Hummer story for the past five or six years, but because Hummer is going to become more than H1, with H2 coming and other [products], we owed it to ourselves to do that," Mr. Hernandez said. Production of the H2, a luxury sport-utility based on GM's full-size truck platform, will start in 2002. The model will retail for at least $40,000.

In late December, GM bought the rights to the Hummer name, product development and marketing. Mr. Hernandez said GM is working toward making Hummer a marketing division. He said the review will take eight to 12 weeks after the agency list is set, but declined to say which agencies are being considered for final competition.


John Beitter, a partner at Pyro, said his agency will participate in the review, but he would not comment further.

Spokesmen for GM agencies D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich., which handles Pontiac and Cadillac, and Campbell-Ewald, Warren, which handles Chevrolet, said their agencies are not on Hummer's short list. Spokesmen for McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, which handles Buick; Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which handles Oldsmobile; and Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, which handles GMC, declined to comment.

Mr. Hernandez said he will seek advice from the agencies on how to reach Hummer's target audience.

"The target market is affluent baby boomers and Gen Xers and, ultimately, Gen Yers," he said. "Actually, it's a subset of those folks -- affluent, intelligent, with an entrepreneurial streak; rugged individualists, very successful in life and they defy convention."

Hummer doesn't have a tagline. H1's position is "Best in class off-road," Mr. Hernandez said. "If you thought of Hummer as a brand, that word would be `daring,' " he said, though he's unsure if that will end up in a tagline.

Mr. Hernandez wouldn't say how much money Hummer is spending on its H1 campaign or how much it plans to spend on new work. "It will be significant and compatible with what we would spend on a launch." Hummer typically spends less than $1 million a year on advertising.

The H1 campaign from Pyro will continue, Mr. Hernandez said. The company buys print ads in publications such as Cigar Aficionado, Forbes FYI, Scientific American, Wine Spectator and Wired.

Mr. Hernandez said he expects a 50% increase in H1 sales this year, to 1,200 units.

Ms. Cantwell is a reporter for Automotive News.

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