Executive Shifts Muddy Chrysler Review


The brands that may still be up for grabs, in the search for fourth-quarter creative, include Chrysler Town & Country and the Dodge Journey and Charger models. GlobalHue, a Detroit-area multicultural independent, picked up the next Jeep campaign, a brand it has previously worked on; Dallas independent The Richards Group won Dodge Ram and heavy trucks; and BBDO recently broke new work for the Chrysler 300 model.

It is thought that Chrysler is currently preparing an agency "request for qualifications" to determine future AOR assignments for Chrysler brands, excluding Dodge Ram, which is expected to stay with Richards.

BBDO remains a part of that consideration. Among the other agencies that have been involved in discussions with Chrysler are Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney and Fallon; Omnicom's Cutwater; and MDC Partners' Crispin Porter + Bogusky.

Chrysler has been under PR lockdown -- participating agencies in the review process declined comment for this piece -- although last week Marchionne publicly predicted that Chrysler could become profitable within 24 months.

On Nov. 4, he will outline his five-year survival plan for the company. Absent new models, marketing sleight of hand will be key in achieving Chrysler's ambitious profit goals.

Whether or not BBDO remains with Chrysler during that time remains to be seen. The agency has enjoyed a dominant role with Chrysler since 2000, when Omnicom won global consolidation duties on what was then a $1.8 billion account. (Through July of this year, Chrysler spent $82 million in measured media, per Nielsen.) But BBDO's Troy, Mich., office is down to 450 people from 2,000 at its peak. (That latter figure did include Chrysler media operations, since shifted to PHD.)

Marchionne's dismantling of Chrysler's lead-agency model now makes BBDO one vendor among many. And all of them may find themselves in constant pitch mode, only as secure in their AOR status as the last campaign they sold through to their Chrysler clients, who are now responsible for the profits and losses of their divisions. Sources say Fiat pays AOR compensation and a bonus kicks in only if work is sold; otherwise, that money goes to whichever agency sells through a solution.

See also: "Carmakers Change Rules of the Game"