A Road Less Traveled

General Motors by-passed its cocoon of roster shops in choosing creative boutique Modernista! to handle the $20 million Hummer account. It is an effort to employ fresh thinking and better reflect the brand, a company executive said.

“It would have been easier just to go and pick a roster shop because we already know what their capabilities are, ” said Marc Hernandez, brand manager of Hummer. “But [Modernista!] offered a fresh perspective as to how they would communicate the message of the brand essence to [the vehicle’s] customers.”

Two GM shops, incumbent Pyro Brand Development in Dallas and McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., were among the review’s finalists, along with The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va. GM acquired Hummer in December 1999.

Pyro has held the account since 1994. Boston-based Modernista! is expected to craft the introductory campaign for GM’s consumer-targeted Hummer vehicle, the H2. The model goes on sale in the first half of 2002.

GM will first “get them integrated or at least get them to understand what it’s going to take to get integrated,” Hernandez said. “Obviously if we’d gone with a roster shop, they’ve got that background. This will be a little bit new for Modernista!”

The year-old shop, led by former Arnold creative star Lance Jensen, has clients that include MTV, Roxio, Explorica and The Travel Channel.

Hummer’s media planning duties will be handled by the new GM Planworks, managed as a part of Starcom MediaVest Group. Media buying will be the responsibility of GM Mediaworks, a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos.