PentaMark's Morden: Change is good

There is nothing more constant than change. That's what ad agency PentaMark has experienced in the past year. BBDO won the battle against FCB to become Chrysler group's single agency in November 2000. The agency was renamed PentaMark.

Morden: Spends less time talking.

Below: Consumer insight has helped Pentamark to become more creative with Chrysler advertising campaigns.

That was followed by a shakeup in the marketing department in February. Bill Morden became chief creative officer in June, replacing Dick Johnson.

Morden had the arduous task of blending former FCB creative staffers into the new organization while launching all-new creative. Special Correspondent Laura Clark Geist caught up with Morden Nov. 12 during Chrysler's marketing preview to talk about the new organization.

What changes have you seen with the new marketing regime at Chrysler group?

These guys (Jim Schroer, executive vice president of sales and marketing; Jeff Bell, vice president of marketing communications; Julie Roehm, director of Dodge marketing communications; and Jay Kuhnie, director of Chrysler/Jeep Global Brand Center) are much more consumer-oriented.

We do a lot of consumer insight work, more so than we ever have before.

It's been an interesting change for us. They've been a lot more creative and that has allowed us to become more creative because it's based on how people really feel. Could you sell (an association with rock 'n' roll group) Aerosmith to this organization five years ago? Probably not. They would not have been into what consumers wanted.

(With the new team) once they decide something, it goes. We spend a lot less time talking about it. If it feels right, we're going to do it.

Can you give me an example?

We had been working on the Dodge Ram theme line, and at 11 o'clock one night I finally came to the conclusion that "Grab life by the horns" was the line. I showed it to Julie (Roehm) that next morning and by 2 o'clock that day, Jim Schroer was showing it at a town hall in front of a bunch of people.

How would this have been handled under the former Chrysler marketing organization?

We would have looked at (the proposed tag line) and talked about it for eight months. (The new marketing executives) are a very emotional group. If they like it, you know it. If they don't like it, they'll tell you right away.

How have you managed all the changes within your creative organization?

We had to blend three agencies together (FCB, BBDO and InterOne, which handles nonmedia activities such as brochures and events).

On the other side, we had all new clients. Blending the agencies takes up almost as much of our daily business time as coming up with all these ads, doing all these new commercials and talking to all these new clients.

We are in constant change, with the idea that eventually we are going to come down to this cohesive group of people that do all the disciplines - from CRM (customer relationship marketing) to interactive to national advertising to event marketing - all in one house.

How have your creative staffs grown?

The original transition number was 200 coming over from FCB. There were about 25 to 30 creative people who did not come over.

What I'm trying to do now is to blend all the Dodge, all the InterOne and all the FCB people creatively together. You have a lot of support people like in the design group, the desktop group and print production group. We're about 320 combined creative staffers in all. Will it change? We'll see.

PentaMark has begun to work more closely with Montemayor Y Asociados, Chrysler's advertising agency for the Hispanic community. Can you describe how that new relationship works?

They are involved in all our strategy setups. When we build the brand, we supply them with all the background information from consumer research. They are in a specific world with a minority outlook. They do the work, and they'll present it to Jeff (Bell) and Julie (Roehm) or Jay (Kuhnie). We're in their reviews, and they're in our reviews, and we share ideas. The door swings both ways.

Can you give me an example?

We did a Durango spot and ended up doing a version in Spanish. The casting was Hispanic. On Jeep, Montemayor did the Statue of Liberty spot called "Rising," which was much more endearing to the Spanish market with American heritage and patriotism.

It was done in Spanish, but the Julio Iglesias song (in the ad) made it cross over (into the general market).

We are working in tandem, and we're trying to work more efficiently. Look at the money we save. They did the Jeep "Rising" spot, and that's one less spot that we have to do.

How about corporate advertising?

The original "Home for the Holidays" (Chrysler's campaign to promote its longer warranty and 0 percent financing) spot was a corporate spot.

We also have a print campaign talking about quality, winning awards and DaimlerChrysler the brand. It's just like anything, though.

When the heat is on, corporate tends to be the first to be taken down, and the money is slid over to some other problem area. "Home for the Holidays" shares all the resources we have.

We didn't do a lot of corporate advertising before (2001). The monniker has always been Chrysler Corp. and we've always had the Chrysler brand. You always had that double-edged sword. What was good for Chrysler Corp. was good for Chrysler the brand.

So when Chrysler Corp. went bad, there was also a residual effect on the brand. Now under DaimlerChrysler, it's a different ballgame. Chrysler can be a separate brand along with Dodge and Jeep. It's a little clearer now. It's about three great American brands: Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

Have you saved costs using one agency?

The first swipe, there was over $100 million saved when we brought all three agencies (BBDO, FCB and InterOne) together. We're all Omnicom-owned.

Where we saved it was the backroom stuff where we had duplication. Do you need four lawyers or just two? The way we look at it is once it has been brand-defined and someone touches it, it becomes a pool, a resource. So a producer will work on a Jeep ad one day and a Dodge ad the next.

But we already know what the exact Jeep idea is because we've gone through that brand's separate thinking. I see that happening, too, with customer relationship marketing and interactive.

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