Nissan Moves Its Business Away from TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles After 30 Years

By Patrick Coffee 

This week Nissan announced that it would be consolidating all of its agency work on the East Coast, effectively ending a 30-year relationship with TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles.

Nissan United, the dedicated unit formed by Omnicom in 2013, will continue to run the business with the same agencies: TBWA and NURVEY on social/digital, Zimmerman on creative, Critical Mass on web design and OMD on media. fluent360 is the car giant’s multicultural AOR and Stratacomm handles public relations.

In an internal memo sent out yesterday, TBWA\Worldwide president and CEO Troy Ruhanen attributed the move to a desire to “keep pace with all of our clients’ needs and geographic demands,” writing:

OMD, TBWA and Zimmerman have been the lead agencies for Nissan in the U.S. for decades, and will continue to play that role in the future. However, in order to meet our clients’ needs faster, we are shifting many of our resources from LA to East Coast offices to be in closer proximity to Nissan’s Headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. These changes will lead to a general headcount reduction in LA, with an increase in other locations and disciplines.

Nissan U.S. vp of marketing communications and media Jeremy Tucker said his company’s relationship with Omnicom has “never been stronger,” pointing to an “all-time record” for sales in 2016 and naming the Star Wars: Rogue One project as Nissan’s biggest-ever crossover project.

TBWA and Zimmerman both declined to comment, but we hear some L.A. staffers have been offered the opportunity to relocate to New York, Nashville or Ft. Lauderdale, where the latter agency has its headquarters. According to our sources, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York will now handle a greater share of social and digital work with Zimmerman potentially creating more retail-focused TV spots. (TBWA first won the business back in 1987.)

“My belief in our LA team remains firm,” Ruhanen wrote, citing the office’s recent work for Gatorade and Airbnb, its August win in the Intel B2B review, and the hires of of chief innovation officer, managing director John Deschner and president Erin Riley.

Last March, Nissan’s incoming head of sales Christian Meunier told the New York auto show, “I was really upset with the agency in the beginning. … I said, ‘You guys better deliver something. You’d better come to Nashville next week with a plan that works.’ And they came back with a very good plan.” Nissan United later brought on Neil Dawson as global creative lead.

It’s not clear at this time how many staff members will be affected by the move, though we hear from multiple parties that TBWA L.A. has already begun a round of related layoffs. Here’s the full Adweek writeup.