More Than Just a Name Change

PentaMark’s decision to restore its old name, BBDO Detroit, in the U.S. was a sym bolic move by CEO Mike Vogel to signal the end of what he called “probably the toughest year of my business career.”

Vogel was the top executive at FCB Worldwide when it lost its share of DaimlerChrys ler’s Chrysler Group bus iness to BBDO in a $1.5 billion shootout in Novem ber 2000. Almost immedi ately, Vogel joined BBDO, and the shop, renamed PentaMark, hired about 270 FCB staffers.

Vogel said his biggest challenge was getting his people over the “us vs. them” mentality that the tug-of-war encouraged during the nearly 20 years the two agencies jointly handled the auto marketer.

Before the consolidation, BBDO handled Dodge, and its PentaCom subsidiary also handled Chrysler Group and Mercedes-Benz assignments around the world. FCB handled Chrysler, Plymouth and Jeep, as well as Chrysler corporate ads.

FCB and BBDO shops worked under an uneasy “détente,” as one executive described it at the time, but were locked in what Vogel described as “fierce competition” over the carmaker’s business.

Through layoffs, retirements and the departure of people who Vogel said couldn’t handle the stress of the transition, the agency has lost about 900 employees and is down to 1,800, which includes the main office in Troy, Mich., and field offices around the world.

Meanwhile, Chrysler’s marketing team in the past year has undergone its own makeover, with nearly all top marketing executives replaced by a crew of former Ford Motor Co. executives led by Jim Schroer.

Industry insiders have speculated that the transition might threaten BBDO’s position with the brand, talk that was fueled when the auto maker enlisted shops that included Omnicom sister Arnell Group and Fusion 5, a non-Omnicom shop, for marketing projects. But Schroer has designated Vogel as the gatekeeper for all Chrysler marketing concepts, meaning the other agencies have been asked to go through him.

Vogel said he worked for six months to implement the name change, instituted last month and motivated by BBDO’s stronger brand recog nition. PentaCom, the media-buying unit for Chrysler, was folded into Omnicom media network PHD in March.

InterOne Communications, which handles collateral for the automaker, has been gradually folded into the main agency since BBDO won the entire business.