Buick Agencies Pool Creativity For U.S. Dealers

In response to changes within General Motors Corp., three of the company’s four “preferred” Buick dealer agencies have allied creative forces on dealer advertising.
Cliff Houser & Associates, Bay City, Mich.; Denniberg, Potomac, Md.; and Jordan/Tamaraz/Caruso, Chicago, are working together to create a unified message from dealer to dealer, agency principals said.
“There’s no reason to be running three different [Buick] Century ads in Michigan” for each dealer group, said JTC principal Chuck Jordan.
The agencies will meet regularly to discuss creative strategies and pass along spots showcasing different cars and specials.
The move was spurred by GM’s repeated urgings for the dealer agencies to “get common,” Jordan said. Earlier this year, GM said John Middlebrook would oversee all divisional brands while giving each nameplate its own marketing head. The company also revealed it would divide the country into five regions, causing some dealer agencies to predict another round of consolidation reviews [Adweek, Aug. 10].
Discussions about creating an alliance had been swirling for several months. Before the agencies allied, they agreed not to poach on each other’s Buick territory. “If there was a concern, we wouldn’t have done it,” said Elliot Denniberg, president of Denniberg Advertising.
As part of this agreement, promotional marketing, planning and media buying departments for each agency will remain independent.
The three agencies represent about 65 percent of the country’s Buick dealer groups, Jordan said.
In 1995, Buick cut its list of preferred dealer shops to five: JTC, Cliff Houser, Denniberg, Jay Inc. of Rochester, N.Y., and Tampa, Fla., and McCann-Erickson of Troy, Mich., which also handles Buick’s national account. The Interpublic Group of Companies, which owns McCann-Erickson, later bought Jay Inc. McCann was then dropped from the preferred dealer list.