Chrysler Confirms Universal McCann Hire

It’s official: Universal McCann has now added two car accounts this year, with Chrysler confirming today it has awarded media chores to UM after a review.

Earlier this year, the Interpublic Group shop won BMW.

Aegis Group’s Carat had also contended for the Chrysler business. Omnicom’s PHD is the incumbent.

Like many automakers, Chrysler has cut its ad spending sharply in the last couple of years. It spent $840 million in domestic measured media last year, way down from $1.8 billion in 2007, per Nielsen. The automaker’s spending totaled $316 million this year through September. (Spending on the BMW account is estimated at $200 million).

Sources said that Chrysler defines PHD as a “tier-two” vendor, because it supplies media services through the contract agreement the client has with sibling agency BBDO, the carmaker’s lead creative shop.

That contract is set to expire at the end of January, and Chrysler said that UM and PHD would work over the next two months to “ensure a smooth transition.”

The client said that with UM, media buying and planning would be primarily run out of Detroit, with the support of offices in New York and San Francisco. The scope of work covers traditional and digital media. In addition to buying and planning, UM will also be tasked with supporting Chrysler’s retail marketing initiatives.

“As a new company with a brand-driven focus, we are looking for agencies that can deliver unique ideas and solutions to help us better communicate with consumers,” said Olivier Francois, president and CEO, Chrysler brand, and head of Chrysler marketing, in a statement. “These changes will allow Chrysler greater efficiencies and flexibility in the use of its media across all four brands and at the retail level.”

It wasn’t clear what would become of UM’s BMW assignment. According to Nielsen, BMW spent about $150 million on domestic ads in 2008. The UM assignment also includes an estimated $50 million in additional dealer chores.

In addition, Chrysler said today that Meredith Integrated Marketing would manage customer relationship marketing initiatives for both the U.S. and Canada. Meredith has been a custom publisher for the client.

The client chose Publicis Groupe’s Fallon to succeed BBDO.

Nielsen Business Media