Prodigious’ GM Loss Takes Effect as McCann Detroit Faces Similar Woes

By Matt Van Hoven 

Prodigious Worldwide is Digitas’ stand-alone production unit. Built up in 2007, the company serves Saatchi & Saatchi, Arc, Publicis, Leo Burnett and of course, Digitas. About a year ago Prodigious lost a chunk of GM production &#151 a loss that due to the business cycle and GM’s bankruptcy &#151 is only taking effect now.

So, if it happened a year ago, who cares? We’re told the teams only found out last week. Also, what could be billed as a Prodigious loss is technically a Digitas blow as well &#151 though the agency retains digital AOR status, service & parts, in-market digital marketing, fleet and commercial,, CRM and some incentive deal duties for GM brands Buick, GMC and OnStar. What was lost then, is production for those pieces of business.

Production for Saturn and Pontiac just disappeared with the brands, so nothing “lost” there &#151 just gone.

Where did Prodigious’ work go? MRM &#151 a move that AdWeek gave a C+ in their Emerging Media Digital Agency Report Cards 2008, noting “MRM’s efforts in social media can be schizophrenic.” Apparently, MRM’s contract is for US-digital production only, on the four remaining GM US brands &#151 GMC, Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac. The tie in to social media there seems off.

Presumably, Digitas still considers GM a top tier client and will try to fill in the gap. But how? With rumors that the client could leave all together, and that McCann Detroit’s grip maybe slipping (yeah, we’ve heard that too), it’s not fair to assume the business is all heading in McCann’s direction.

In fact, we’re told that MRM is still going over pricing for this production work. That might mean that the transition was not born from a lower cost structure at MRM as AdWeek suggests, but something else. Take the rumor that Cadillac could land in McCann’s hands, for example. The agency tells us it’s not yet in the bag, though the shop has been pulling all nighters to get ready. Some within the shop feel that the only reason they’ve been allowed to pitch has to do with Cadillac’s marketing and advertising director Steve Shannon’s ties to McCann Detroit CEO Garry Neel. The two are reportedly long time friends.

What that means for Saab is yet to be seen, but “they would probably have to resign that account since Saab is being sold,” says another source. There’s also GM Planworks and GM Reputational to be sorted out.

Though the win is a year old, it could play an important role when GM chooses brand assignments.

More:GM’s Bob Lutz Promises/Threatens Radical Marketing Makeover