NEW YORK-The advertising company Omnicom Group Inc. made a highly unusual concession to win $1.5 billion in ad business from Chrysler Group: It promised to hire the top brains from a rival ad agency to run the show.
True North Communications Inc. (TNO) lost its biggest account earlier this month after Chrysler Group, a unit of DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX), said it would consolidate its ad business at Omnicom (OMC), a larger advertising company w hose BBDO Worldwide unit made the ads for Chrysler’s Dodge brand. But officials at BBDO Worldwide had to agree to hire the top people at True North’s FCB Worldwide, the agency that created ads for Chrysler and Chrysler’s Jeep brand.
As a result, Mike Vogel, president and chief executive of FCB Detroit, will serve as the new chairman and CEO of Omnicom’s new PentaMark unit, created to handle the consolidated Chrysler account, according to an internal BBDO memo. The memo, dated Nov. 8 and signed by Allen R osenshine, BBDO’s chairman and chief executive, said Mr. Vogel will oversee Chrysler advertising. His starting date hasn’t been determined.
Mr. Rosenshine, head of BBDO Worldwide, said in an interview that his recruitment of Mr. Vogel to head the Chr ysler business was “highly unusual … but this is a highly unusual circumstance” because of the enormous size of the Chrysler account. “I’ve never been in a review like this,” he added, saying that next on his to do list was working with Chrysler to figure out whom else from FCB to hire.
Mr. Vogel couldn’t be reached for comment because he is away on vacation. Kathy Tebbe, a spokesperson for the PentaMark unit, said it was her understanding that he had accepted the position.
Chrysler’s marketing team, hav ing pegged Mr. Vogel as the person to oversee its gigantic account, pushed Omnicom to give him the top job, according to people familiar with the negotiations. Chrysler hoped this would enable Omnicom to also recruit others at FCB Detroit involved in crea ting Jeep and Chrysler ads. “We went after him from the beginning” said one person at Chrysler with knowledge of the negotiations to hire Mr. Vogel. “Mike is the key to bringing over the top talent at FCB.”
Joe Casola, vice president in charge of Ch rysler Group’s global marketing operations, declined to comment on Chrysler’s role in the matter. However, he said FCB Detroit had developed several memorable Chrysler and Jeep ads on Mr. Vogel’s watch. One commercial showed a Jeep maneuvering below a pil e of snow, illustrating that Jeeps go anywhere and do anything. A spokesman for Chrysler added: “We’re really interested in the FCB creative team.”
Though the internal memo didn’t name others at FCB who would wind up in top positions at Omnicom’s PentaMa rk unit, it did say that “as part of the BBDO proposal to DaimlerChrysler, it was agreed that the best possible structure … would be one which engaged senior people of FCB.” A spokesperson for FCB declined to comment.
The BBDO memo went on to list at l east two current BBDO executives who it says will get top jobs at PentaMark Worldwide, including Marty Levine, who has been picked to be president and chief operating officer, and Pete Swiecicki, chosen to be chief financial officer. It also says Tom Clark, vi ce chairman of BBDO Worldwide, would continue in that position. He is expected to retire at the end of the year, according to people familiar with the PentaMark negotiations. None of the BBDO executives returned calls seeking comment.
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