Trading on the Volkswagen experience of co-founder Lance Jensen, startup Modernista! has made a surprise appearance in the final round of the review for the advertising account of General Motors' Hummer vehicle.
The 12-person agency in Boston, helmed by copywriter Jensen and art director Gary Koepke, is facing off against Hummer incumbent Pyro Brand Development, Dallas, which is teamed with crosstown shop The Richards Group; McCann-Erickson, Troy, Mich.; and The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.
Finalists were selected last week from a group of eight shops that included GM roster agency Mullen of Wenham, Mass. [Adweek, Aug 14].
Modernista! was not previously known to be pitching the $20 million assignment, though Jensen has said winning a car-related account would be a Modernista! priority.
Jensen gained a measure of fame in the 1990s at Arnold Communications, Boston, where he joined with art director Alan Pafenbach and chief creative officer Ron Lawner to fashion Volkswagen of America's oft-awarded "Drivers wanted" campaign.
Seeking new challenges, Jensen left Arnold late last year and joined with long-time friend Koepke to form Modernista!
The shop has announced two clients, MTV Networks and The Travel Channel, though no work for either has appeared.
To win MTV's $8 million branding assignment in the spring, Modernista! overcame established players Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, and Di-Noto Lee in New York; and the shop has already bucked the odds by reaching the finals for Hummer.
Jensen and Koepke did not return calls last week.
The increased marketing budget for Hummer, which spent less than $1 million last year, will be used to support an update version, the Hummer H2, slated to launch in 2002.