Chevy Turns to Mother

While GM says the Chevrolet brand will stick with Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, it gives a digital project to rival agency and fuels the rumor mill

Chevrolet is trying to silence buzz in Detroit that it’s dissatisfied with its lead agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and will be looking elsewhere as it assigns future projects. In August, GM global marketing chief Joel Ewanick publicly criticized the lack of consistency of GS&P’s Chevy work, giving some of it “C” and “B” grades as well as “A.”

This as the General Motors brand assigns Mother Advertising a digital project associated with Chevy’s centennial celebration, which officially commences Nov. 3. Automotive sources say the assignment is part of a move to broaden the brand’s agency ranks. But Pat Morrissey, director of product and brand communications at GM, denies that.

“Mother is working on a one-off digital project for Chevy around Centennial. That’s all,” he says. “This is a normal part of the business—tapping into certain areas of expertise for specific projects. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is still our lead agency. There is no ‘jump ball’ or focused effort to widen the Chevrolet agency pool.”

Morrissey said there was no competitive review for the project awarded to Mother, and it’s not unusual for the brand to go outside its lead shop in specific areas, which it already does for diversity marketing and social media.

Calls to execs at Mother’s New York and London offices were not returned.

GS&P co-founder Jeff Goodby seems unconcerned about the Mother assignment, telling Adweek, “It’s a really big account, and it’s not like the old days where agency people hold these accounts so tightly and never let in other light. I’m fine and open about having other good agencies like Mother work on the business.”

One of Ewanick’s first moves when he joined GM in 2010 was to fire Chevy’s agency, Publicis, and give the business, with revenue on the creative account of $30 million, to GS&P. The agency, with whom Ewanick had worked previously, introduced the “Chevy Runs Deep” positioning a year ago to mixed reviews. “Is Goodby having trouble with the account? Yeah. Will they get fired? No,” says one source. “They go back too far with Joel.”