GSD&M Looks Beyond Loss of $50 Mil. Land Rover

GSD&M plans to “aggressively” look for other business in the automotive segment once the $50 million U.S. advertising account of Land Rover shifts to Young & Rubicam in October, GSD&M president Roy Spence said.

GSD&M is not eyeing any particular car account, said Spence, who suggested the shop declined to participate in a number of auto industry pitches in the last year that would have caused a conflict.

“We’re not obsessed with [the segment], but we are good at it, so I hope our knowledge and wisdom and smarts can be used with another brand and purpose,” he said.

On Oct. 10, the Austin, Texas, agency will turn the car business over to Y&R’s Irvine, Calif., office, which handles Land Rover’s global advertising.

Y&R also performs work for Lincoln-Mercury and Jaguar, two other Ford Motor Co. brands. GSD&M will also lose Land Rover’s media account, which shifts to the WPP Group’s Mediaedge:cia.

Ford bought Land Rover’s Irvine-based operation three months after GSD&M won the domestic car account in March 2000. The agency had a “no-cut clause” with the automaker that expired June 30.

Spence insisted the loss will have “almost zero” impact on the agency’s 2002 financials since the relationship ends so late in the year. GSD&M reported billings of $1.1 billion last year.

Seven account service-side staff members were dedicated to the Land Rover account. Spence said no personnel layoffs will result from the loss of the business. He pointed out that the agency’s creativeand media teams did not work exclusively on the car business.

“There are no sour grapes on our part,” Spence said. “We had a gun to our head for the last year and we never faltered, never gave up, and did our business with dignity.”

Young & Rubicam will “evolve” the television and print creative advertising that GSD&M has initiated, saidJon Williams, vice president of marketing at Land Rover North America.

Y&R Irvine’s first advertising assignment will involve the launch of the brand’s new three-door Freelander model later this year.