Chevrolet Ad Execs All But Admit $5 Billion Ad Pact Is Doomed To Fail

dr. doom

Photo: Marvel Comics

Yesterday, we opined that Chevrolet’s decision to ask Omnicom and Interpublic to form a joint, non-competitive agency to serve its $5 billion global marketing budget was a giant conflict of interest that could be a huge mistake.Just hours after the unique pact was announced between Omnicom’s Goodby Silverstein & Partners and Interpublic’s McCann Erickson, the leaders of both agencies expressed their doubts to Ad Age. Founder Jeff Goodby said:

“At the top of these companies, there is a natural sort of antipathy, and their interests are at odds with each other.”

Nick Brien, chairman-CEO of McCann Worldgroup, said:

“We took a wall down.”

That “antipathy” and that “wall” were there for good reason: because it’s better when agencies compete for business than when they engage in a kabuki show of cooperation. (Let’s just be honest about the fact that Omnicom and IPG are competitors on Chevy’s business, even though they are dividing the account geographically.)

Both men made their comments in attempts to explain how they were going to overcome that wall of antipathy in the creation of the new jointly controlled agency, Commonwealth. (Goodby went on to say, “But that doesn’t extend down into the companies themselves. We closed the door the day that we met, and I said, ‘Listen, the agency thing, the network thing, that’s gonna be checked at the door.’ “)

In addressing the issue, they both explained its flaw beautifully: Commonwealth stems from two agencies that ought not to be in business with each other.

Brien also underlined the other apparent problem for Omnicom: The board that will control Commonwealth is made up of Jeff Goodby and four executives from IPG. This doesn’t seem very “50-50,” as Brien termed it:

“There had to become complete trust — not only courage to create a whole new model but the depth of the relationships between Jeff and the four amigos.” He was referring to the global board that will run Commonwealth based on hubs around the world, including McCann creatives Linus Karlsson, Prasoon Joshi and Washington Olivetto, and Mr. Goodby.

Perhaps Goodby and McCann can make this work. Stranger things have happened. (Enfatico, for instance, the custom-built global agency that Dell asked WPP to build for it. Whatever happened to Enfatico? Oh, right …)

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