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Former Ties Drive Change at Chevy

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In the span of five months, Publicis went from joining the Chevy roster (to work on sedan ads) and stripping Campbell-Ewald of its remaining duties (on truck, retail and sponsorship ads) to losing the brand entirely. In essence, Ewanick had undone a key decision blessed by his predecessor, Susan Docherty. Adding to the sting of the abrupt about-face, sources said that Publicis executives first learned of their fate from the media, not GM.

In a statement confirming the Goodby hire, Ewanick said he was "confident" that Goodby has the "creativity and ability to take the iconic Chevrolet brand to the next level-and to do it fast."

Ewanick declined a request for an interview, but wrote in an e-mail that "Chevrolet is going to roll, mark my words." Goodby co-chairman Jeff Goodby declined comment.

Not withstanding Goodby's reputation as one of the best creative agencies in the country, five car accounts have come and gone in its 27-year history, leading some sources to question the shop's ability to balance the needs of both marketing chiefs and car dealers. Isuzu lasted the longest -- from 1991 until 2002 -- followed by Saturn and Porsche (at five years each) and Hyundai and the Honda dealers of Northern California (two years each).

"As a dealer once said to me ...  CMOs come and go, but we are always still here," said a source.

To handle the Chevy account -- whose total revenue is estimated at $50-60 million -- Goodby will open its first full-service office outside of San Francisco in GM's home city of Detroit. --with Noreen O'Leary