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GM's Hummer Choice Reflects Desire for Daring

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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 to 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. And that's really what we were looking for."

Two GM shops, incumbent Pyro Brand Development in Dallas and McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., were among the review's finalists. Pyro has had the account since 1994.

Modernista!, Boston, is expected to craft the introductory campaign for the consumer-targeted Hummer vehicle, the H2. The vehicle goes on sale in the first half of 2002.

GM will first "get them integrated into, or at least get them to understand what it's going to take to get integrated" into the giant corporation, Hernandez said.

The year-old shop, led by former Arnold creative star Lance Jensen, has clients that include MTV, Roxio, Explorica and The Travel Channel. Gary Koepke, founding partner at Modernista!, referred calls to GM.

Hummer's media planning will be handled by the new GM Planworks. Media buying will be the responsibility of GM Mediaworks.

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