Omnicom, Zimmerman Sign Papers

$200 Mil. Nissan Dealer Business to Shift From TBWA/Chiat/Day
LOS ANGELES–TBWA/Chiat/Day and Omnicom Group last Thursday signed an agreement to purchase Zimmerman & Partners Advertising, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., according to agency founder Jordan Zimmerman.
The deal will provide TBWA/C/D client Nissan North America’s dealers with a dedicated agency and entrench the position of Omnicom and its shops on the account.
The move, which was expected [Adweek, March 22], comes as TBWA/C/D prepares new campaigns for both the Nissan and Infiniti
divisions, under the watchful eye of Nissan Motor in Japan and its new partner, French car maker Renault.
Both Nissan and the agencies are speculating on the future plans of Renault executive vice president Carlos Ghosn–known as “Le Cost Killer”–who was appointed chief operating officer of Nissan Motor after Renault acquired a 37 percent stake in Nissan for roughly $5 billion.
Once the Zimmerman deal is complete, TBWA/C/D is expected to shift the roughly $200 million Nissan dealer account to Zimmerman, which claimed 1998 revenues of $23 million and billings of $140 million.
TBWA/C/D in Playa del Rey, Calif. will retain the Japanese automaker’s Nissan and Infiniti division factory accounts, as well as ads for Infiniti’s 50 domestic dealers. Billings on those duties are estimated at over $400 million.
Zimmerman is expected to report directly to Omnicom rather than TBWA/C/D and will likely retain its name, said sources. The Florida shop, which previously handled the majority of Mitsubishi’s dealer work, will be positioned as a retail marketing specialist within Omnicom, said sources.
Bob Kuperman, TBWA/C/D chief executive officer of the Americas and the executive who negotiated the deal, referred all inquiries to Omnicom. Omnicom chief executive officer John Wren could not be reached on Friday.
For Nissan, TBWA/C/D is preparing a $100 million effort with a new theme and tagline to succeed the controversial “Enjoy the ride” effort, said sources. The product-heavy work will center around the June launch of new models like the Maxima 2000 and Xterra SUV.
Meanwhile, Infiniti general manager Tom Orbe said TBWA/C/D is preparing a $50 million campaign for the September launch of the new I30 luxury sedan. The ads will retain Infiniti’s “Own one and you’ll understand” theme but be more “more contemporary” with “recognizable music” which he declined to disclose. As far as shifting Infiniti dealer work to Zimmerman, Orbe said: “We have no need for that. Or desire.”