Buick Dealer Shops Pool Creative

Alliance Responds To GM Push For Consistent Brand Image In Ads
CHICAGO–Responding to General Motors’ field reorganization, three of Buick’s four “preferred” dealer agencies are joining their creative forces.
Creative teams from those shops–Cliff Houser & Associates in Bay City, Mich.; Denniberg in Potomac, Md., and Jordan/Tamaraz/Caruso in Chicago –are working together in an effort to create a unified Buick message, agency principals said.
“There’s no reason to be running three different [Buick] Century ads in Michigan” for different dealer groups, said Chuck Jordan, JTC partner.
The agencies will meet regularly to discuss creative strategies and pass along spots showcasing different cars and specials.
The move was spurred by GM’s repeated urgings that the dealer agencies “get common,” Jordan said. Earlier this year, GM announced a new structure, effective Jan. 1, that divides the country into five regions. Staff in those regions will work with all dealers, no matter their GM division, on parts, service and marketing issues. That announcement had fueled speculation that further consolidation of dealer agencies could occur.
“We know things are changing at GM, and we want to send the message that we can be flexible,” said Cliff Houser, president of Cliff Houser & Associates. “As the concept of being more conscious of brand identity was unfolding, it made more sense for the key agencies to work together.”
The agencies have made a handshake agreement not to poach on each other’s Buick territories. As part of this pact, promotional marketing, planning and media buying departments for each agency will remain independent.
“Our dealers don’t give up anything in the transition, and Buick gets a collaboration of creative directors to get a brand identity,” Houser said.
The three shops handle local advertising for about 65 percent of the country’s Buick dealer groups, Jordan said. Jay Inc. in Rochester, N.Y., and Tampa, Fla., and McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., which also handles Buick’s national account, were the other two preferred dealer shops named in 1995. Interpublic Group of Companies, which owns McCann, later bought Jay Inc., and McCann was dropped from the preferred dealer list. Jay opted not to join the new alliance.
Buick dealers spent $40 million on ads in the first half of 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting.