GM: Hummer Choice Is a Dose of ‘Fresh Insight’

General Motors by-passed its roster shops in choosing creative boutique Modernista! to handle the $20 million Hummer account, in an effort to bring in some fresh thinking and better reflect the brand, a company executive said.

“It would have been easier just to go and pick a roster shop because we already know what their capabilities are and how good they are,” said Hummer brand manager Marc Hernandez. “But [Modernista!] offered a fresh perspective on our customers. They offered some fresh insight as to how they would communicate the message of the brand essence to those customers.”

Two GM shops, incumbent Pyro Brand Development in Dallas and McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., were among the finalists, which also included The Mar-tin Agency in Richmond, Va. Pyro has handled the account since 1994; it pitched with The Rich-ards Group in Dallas.

Modernista! in Boston is ex-pected to craft the first campaign for the consumer-targeted Hummer vehicle, the H2, which goes on sale in the first half of 2002. GM will first “get [Modernista!] integrated into [GM], or at least get them to understand what it’s going to take to get integrated [into GM],” Hernandez said.

The year-old shop, led by former Arnold Communications creative Lance Jensen, has clients that in-clude MTV and Roxio. Shop found-ing partner Gary Koepke referred calls to GM.

Media planning will be handled by the new GM Planworks; GM Mediaworks will handle media buying.

“The process of pitching this business was extremely valuable to us,” said Garry Neel, managing director of McCann-Erickson, which handles GM corporate and Buick. “We learned just how good we really are, we had fun, and we developed an attitude.”

Pyro could not be reached for comment.