A Road Less Traveled

General Motors by-passed its cocoon of roster shops in choosing creative boutique Modernista! to handle the $20 million Hummer advertising account. The move is an effort to import 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 and how good they are,” said Marc Hernandez, brand manager of Hummer. “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, along with The Martin Agency of Richmond, Va.. Pyro has held the account since 1994. GM acquired Hummer in December 1999.

Boston-based Modernista! is expected to craft the introductory advertising 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” into the giant corporation, Hernandez said.

“Obviously if we’d gone with a roster shop, they’ve got that background,” he added. “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 will be handled by the new GM Planworks, managed as a part of the Starcom MediaVest Group. Media buying will be the responsibility of GM Mediaworks, a unit of the Interpublic Group of Cos.