The arrival of a new client is always the subject of doubts and fears in an agency, more so than ever when that agency is the unorthodox construct of the aforementioned client’s unorthodox predecessor.
But that’s the prospect for General Motors’ new Chevrolet agency Commonwealth, the brainchild of departed General Motors CMO Joel Ewanick, with the arrival of new Chevrolet ad director Molly Peck.
Peck (left) moves from ad director of GM’s luxury brand Cadillac where she spent barely over a year. She knows all about Chevrolet though having been national ad manager up to February 2011. We don’t know whether she moved to get more experience or just to avoid Ewanick and his increasingly bizarre antics (which included, as well as setting up Commonwealth, rubbishing Facebook before its IPO as he pulled GM’s $10m spend, canning Super Bowl ads and pouring $500m or so into sponsoring Manchester United).
Neither do we know what she makes of Ewanick’s strategy for Chevrolet (although, unlike Ewanick, she said she was a social media fan at Cadillac), or even if she likes football. We do know that someone at GM has to get Chevrolet right or the whole giant company is in trouble. Chevrolet accounts for about 70 per cent of the company’s sales (Cadillac is about six per cent).
So her relationship with Commonwealth is crucial to the whole enterprise. The new agency is a joint venture between Omnicom’s Goodby Silverstein (responsibly for the underwhelming ‘Chevy Runs Deep’ campaign) and Interpublic’s McCann, which seems to have the upper hand. Presumably it’s supposed to combine Goodby creativity with McCann muscle, although McCann global CCO Linus Karlsson is on the committee that’s supposed to be running it.
Chevrolet and GM have other big issues too, of course. Its much-hyped electric Volt seems to have run out of gas (sorry) while its new Malibu mid-size sedan is its first global car launch, but one faced with powerful rivals like Toyota’s Camry (the biggest-selling such car in the US) and the Honda Accord.
But advertising is important; Chrysler’s fortunes in the US have turned up sharply despite a lack of new models, mainly thanks to a series of outstanding campaign from Wieden+Kennedy. This won’t have gone unnoticed at GM. So Peck and Commonwealth had better hit it off from day one.