TriHonda Dealer Group Completes Agency Search

Two Publicis Groupe shops to share the business

A group of Honda dealers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut that plans to expand its marketing efforts next year has hired a new agency to lead the charge.

Publicis Kaplan Thaler will be the lead creative shop on the assignment, with annual media spending projected at $40 million. Sister shop MediaVest will handle media planning and buying. Both are units of Publicis Groupe.

The hire comes after a review in which there were two other finalists that could not be ascertained. The TriHonda Dealer Group launched the search in September. 

The creative piece will take the form of TV and digital ads, social media marketing and sponsorship efforts. Publicis Kaplan Thaler's work will complement national and regional ads from the American Honda Motor Co. and individual dealer efforts.

In terms of revenue, the creative and media business collectively represents an estimated $2-3 million annually.

The bulk of the 60 dealers in the group are in New York and New Jersey, with just five dealerships in Connecticut.

In a statement, Rob Sabbagh, the group president, said he was impressed by the collaboration between Publicis Kaplan Thaler and MediaVest in the pitch. Together, they represent "new opportunities" to "drive growth in all areas of our business," said Sabbagh, who runs a dealership in Brooklyn.

In an interview, he added that Publicis Kaplan Thaler is "obviously a major player in the advertising world and their creative concepts really stood out."

Past advertising for a smaller group of dealers in four New York City boroughs and Long Island had been handled by Della Femina Rothschild Jeary & Partners in New York.

The winning agency is the product of the July merger of Publicis and The Kaplan Thaler Group.

Publicis has car experience, having handled BMW dealer advertising for 13 years, ending in 2009. Kaplan Thaler has never worked on a car brand, but does have related experience through accounts such as Napa Auto Parts and—both of which remain at the merged shop.