The group, called the Retail Automotive Division, appears to be based on J. Walter Thompson's Regional Advertising Group, which services the majority of Ford Dealer Associations. To run RAD, Lintas has tapped Nicholas J. Popely, a longtime auto specialist from JWT, who has most recently working with dealer groups in Atlanta, Boston, Rochester, N.Y. and Chicago. Popely will have a staff of about six to start.
For the most part, none of GM's divisional agencies of record handle dealer associations. The exceptions are Hal Riney & Partners/S.F., which handles ads for all Saturn dealers - a clause written into the franchise agreement, and McCann SAS, which handles some of the GMC Truck associations.
LCE president Anthony Hopp said that the group will be pitching the associations on two of the agency's strengths. 'We can mesh local advertising with Chevrolet's overall strategy better than a local agency, and we can bring our media clout to the table to get associations more for their spending,' said Hopp, who said Lintas will open local offices around the country as needed to serve the associations it wins.
The issue of dealer association advertising is an old one. The car companies would like dealer ads to tie into the national ad strategy. Agencies would like the extra billings. But dealers resist attempts by Detroit to tell them what will and won't work in their local market.
Lintas will be trying to win over dealers at a time when it is taking Chevy into a new era of advertising. The advertising agency and client recently announced that they are retiring the 'Heartbeat of America' theme, and will launch a new campaign theme and positioning in 1994, presumably with the launch of an all-new Lumina.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)