General Motors wants to make Cadillac a big global luxury car brand so it’s dumping Lowe Campbell-Ewald (and its 500 employees in Detroit) and moving to Publicis Worldwide. Because Publicis is good at luxury brands it seems, although packaging Cadillac is surely somewhat different to a fragrance or box of pricey chocs.
The move seems to have been prompted by new Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen, most recently boss of Nissan’s Infiniti. Cadillac is also moving its HQ from Detroit to NYC’s SoHo, which may have something to do with it too.
It’s a rum business though. Cadillac spent about three months at bespoke Interpublic agency Rogue (IPG also owns Lowe) and has lodged at Publicis Groupe’s, BBH, Leo Burnett and Fallon in recent times. So this looks like a Publicis Groupe deal.
Enter, in a puff of smoke, our old friend Maurice Levy (left), taking time off from trying to persuade the world that paying $3.7bn in cash for Sapient is a good idea (most of the world remains, as yet, unconvinced).
Publicis Groupe needs to be bigger in the US. Its growth in both revenue and profit has slowed dramatically recently, which Levy has blamed on the distractions of the aborted Omnicom/Publicis ‘merger of equals.’ The US is the growth hub of global adland at the moment and it’s traditional advertising, through traditional agencies, that’s providing it.
Cadillac is a fairly big spender at $280m and, presumably, this will grow if it’s serious about expanding around the world. General Motors, Cadillac’s owner, is much bigger of course although longstanding Publicis client Renault might have something to say if Publicis won any mass market GM brands. It may not be best pleased at Cadillac although it’s put up with it in the past.
Cadillac should help Publicis get its top and bottom lines back in order, albeit in a small way. It would be surprising, though, if Cadillac hasn’t extracted a substantial cut in fees, knowing how much Publicis wants and needs the business.