Chrysler Starts Minority Review

DETROIT — DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler Group is inviting about two dozen agencies to pitch its minority advertising business, worth an estimated $40-50 million in billings.

Shops that specialize in marketing to ethnic groups or to gay, lesbian and bisexual groups will receive a proposal request this week, said Chrysler Group representative James Kenyon.

The incumbent for African-American work is Don Coleman Advertising in Southfield, Mich., while Montemayor y Asociados in San Antonio handles Hispanic target advertising.

“We fully expect [the incumbents] to participate vigorously in this review,” said Jeff Bell, Chrysler Group’s vice president, marketing communications, in a statement.

Chrysler has also been working on a project basis with Imada Wong Communications, Los Angeles, for Asian-American-targeted work.

Kenyon said the total business generates revenue of $4-6 million a year.

The automaker has not decided whether it will consolidate all the business at one agency or maintain several different shops, Kenyon said. The projected budget for the year for minority and diversity efforts will remain the same, he added.

In his statement, Bell indicated the automaker is looking for a more cohesive strategy that cuts across various targets.

“We are moving away from solely dedicated creative for African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities,” the statement read. “Instead, we are moving toward serving those dedicated markets, and, at the same time, doing a much better job of urban marketing in general.”

RFPs are due back to the automaker by April 15. At that point, the shops will be cut to an undetermined number, and credentials will be checked, Kenyon said. A second cut will be made for final presentations. A decision is expected by June 1.

Chrysler consolidated its general market account at Omnicom’s PentaMark in late 2000. Both Don Coleman and Montemayor are part of the Interpublic Group of Cos.

Kenyon said the IPG relationship did not trigger the review, nor will it affect the status of those shops in the search.

Carlos Montemayor said he expected his agency would defend but referred further questions to the client. Don Coleman could not be reached.