Fizdale, who, since taking the reins of the agency a little more than a year ago, has had the formidable task of fighting fires on such big-name accounts as Miller Lite, Sony and most recently Olds, pulled off one of the industry's biggest coups. The agency will close its 105-member Southfield, Mich., office and officially move the business to Chicago. And the shop took what other agency heads consider a sometimes risky step by publicly committing its two top executives to the business.
'There was never a moment of finger-pointing during the process,' Fizdale said last week. 'It was a situation where we had to figure out what was wrong. In the end, it became a new relationship; a full partnership that didn't exist in the past.'
Though Burnett emerged as a likely victor in late December (ADWEEK, Dec. 21), in the end it was the Olds dealers - the four on the selection committee - who drove the review in the first place, who unanimously endorsed Burnett. Those four, though, admitted last week that they would have to don armor when they faced the rest of the dealers at their annual meeting in New Orleans, which took place this past weekend.
Following the decision last Monday, Charleston, West Virginia dealer Dick Smith, who was on the committee, said he was getting calls from some 'mad as hell dealers.' 'But that is understandable . . . it'll take a lot of talking and explaining, but we know we made the right choice,' he said.
Burnett no doubt wowed the dealers with its service and the commitment of untold numbers to saving the business. One of the keys early in the review was the launch of Burnett's 'Demand Better,' advertising. Fizdale also credited the agency's work with helping Olds fend off a potentially crippling rumor that GM was considering shutting down the division.
'After being kicked in the gut, we redoubled our efforts,' Fizdale said. 'We did a number of things and helped them shut off a big crisis.'
Moving the account to Chicago was key to winning over the review committee. 'The Southfield office had become a kind of island apart from Burnett's core,' said Olds general marketing manager Knox Ramsey.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)