Modernista! Hums

General Motors by-passed its stable of established roster agencies to name creative boutique Modernista! to handle the $20 million Hummer account.

The Boston-based agency was chosen in an effort to bring in some fresh thinking and to better reflect the brand, a client executive said.

“It would have been easier just to go and pick a roster shop because we already know what their capabilities are and how good they are,” said Hummer brand manager Marc Hernandez. “But [Modernista!] offered a fresh perspective on our customers. They offered some fresh insight as to how they would communicate the message of the brand essence to those customers. And that’s really what we were looking for.”

Two GM shops, incumbent Pyro Brand Development in Dallas and McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., were among the review’s finalists. Pyro has had the account since 1994.

Modernista! is expected to craft the introductory campaign for the consumer-targeted Hummer vehicle, the H2. The vehicle goes on sale in the first half of 2002. GM will first “get them integrated into, or at least get them to understand what it’s going to take to get integrated” into the giant corporation, Hernandez said. “Obviously, if we’d gone with a roster shop, they’ve got that background,” Hernandez said. “This will be a little bit new for Modernista!”

The year-old shop, led by former Arnold Worldwide creative star Lance Jensen, has clients that include MTV, Roxio, Explorica and The Travel Channel. Gary Koepke, founding partner at Modernista!, referred calls to GM. Hummer is believed to be the agency’s largest piece of business so far.

Jensen and other Arnold senior creatives developed the vaunted “Drivers wanted” positioning for Volkswagen. Jensen’s experience crafting a brand identity for VW, sources said, was a key factor in Modernista! winning Hummer.