Today General Motors ended its three-year relationship with ad agency Fallon to start a brand new chapter in its advertising strategy.
Interpublic’s Hill Holliday (based in Boston), Lowe and Partners (based in London), and Campbell Ewald (based close to Detroit) will join forces to create a new agency called Rogue that will be entirely dedicated to the Cadillac account.
Although early rumours pointed to CE getting the $244 million gig, which Cadillac had to deny, it will actually be Hill Holliday that is taking the creative lead. (This is the shop’s first big win since Karen Kaplan began her role as CEO.)
But, wait. Different shops joining forces to take over a General Motors car account? This kind of reminds us of GM’s recently dissolved Commonwealth endeavour in which Goodby Silverstein & Partners and McCann teamed up to work on Chevy. It was dreamed up by former GM CMO Joel Ewanick and fell apart a year after he left, leaving McCann in place but sending GS&P to pack its bags and leave Detroit.
Cadillac advertising director Craig Bierley told Business Insider that the company doesn’t see the similarity. And all three shops that make up Rogue are part of the same holding company — McCann is actually a part of IPG, too — the two components of Commonwealth didn’t come from the same fold.
Bierley talked to BI about how Rogue came to be, and why it’s going to work for Cadillac.
LinkedInCraig Bierley, Cadillac global advertising director.BI: This new ad agency melding seems reminiscent of Commonwealth. (Although the shops are all owned by IPG). Do you see similarities? What is or isn’t different?
CB: As you know advertising and marketing today is much more multi-faceted, with the rising importance of digital, brand building, customer relationship management (CRM), social, retail, etc. So the idea of an integrated team of agencies – not necessarily a brand new idea – is where it’s similar. But this is all about extending Cadillac’s current growth and building the right team with a shared vision for where Cadillac is going. I don’t think the comparison is all that relevant, nor was it the driving force in the review process.
We don’t really see it as all that similar.
BI: Did the three agencies come to you with the idea for Rogue? How did that get decided?
CB: In the review process, we involved the incumbent (Fallon) and then approached two of the largest media conglomerates in the world (Publicis and IPG.) And we went to DDB because we have ongoing work with one of their agencies (Spike DDB.) We briefed them extensively on the Cadillac brand, our growth and the overall opportunity. And we simply asked them construct the solution they felt would be best, in a custom manner, for Cadillac. We did not dictate the methodology – but we did talk a lot about the importance of the total marketing picture, from television creative through to digital, CRM, retail and all the elements. Inside of that, we were looking for global capability with an eye to our ongoing expansion. And of course strong creative direction and a shared vision and understanding of our brand, our products and luxury.
BI: Why the name Rogue?
CB: That was a choice that the IPG people made there. I think that probably naturally came from their mindset on taking a fresh approach.
BI: Will there be a home base where people on the Rogue team will all convene in the same place?
CB: The account management and a lot of the day-to-day work will be headquartered in Detroit. The creative leadership, strategy and planning will be located in Boston.
BI: How will tasks be broken up?
CB: The major components will operate like this: Hill Holliday is the creative engine. CE is the account management, CRM and digital lead. Lowe is global coordination and capability.
BI: What kind of work can we expect?
CB: Cadillac is growing strongly today. We’re up 40% in the US, driven by really dramatic new products. But we think there is much more we can do. We believe our product design and performance, and the spirit of our brand can help us drive more of an emotional connection with the consumer. Our approach will be centered on the customer, a clear understanding of targets. We have even more product coming, so we think the opportunity to expand our growth is pretty compelling.
BI: There were early rumours that the account was going to Campbell Ewald. That wasn’t the case. Can you talk about how that happened/how they’re feeling?
CB: We had a very open review, as I described. We made it as fair and open as we could, along the priorities of how best to take our growth to the next level. Everyone in the review put a great deal of thought and energy into it, which was great.
BI: Fallon CEO Mike Buchner called this decision, “An outcome we do not deserve.” Can you elaborate?
They did good work for us and we appreciate it.
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