McCann-Erickson World-wide's Troy, Mich., office has turned to its New York headquarters to help service virtually every aspect of its $252 million Buick account.
General Motors is McCann's largest client, representing more than $1 billion in billings worldwide, with work for Buick, Opel and Chevrolet.
Last year, McCann's Troy office lost GM's $70 million GMC business to Ammirati Puris Lintas in New York City.
Three people in New York are now overseeing Buick's creative, strategic planning and relationship marketing.
Jonathan Cranin, deputy creative director of the office, in January added the new title of chief creative officer for GM in the United States. He now spends two to three days each week in Detroit.
Cranin earlier had done some work for the Buick Riviera; his execution was picked for the 1997 Riviera campaign. He also created the division's $20 million brand campaign that broke in January.
'A LITTLE ANGST'
Executive Vice President Gunnar Wilmot, who heads McCann's Troy office, last week dismissed talk that the agency is in trouble on the account.
'That is absolutely and totally not true,' he said. 'We are proactively raising the bar' on Buick creative and account service.
He acknowledged the changes 'may be creating a little angst' at the Detroit-area office.
The client also said the relationship was in no danger.
'Buick has had a long-standing relationship with McCann (since 1958) and expects to continue that relationship going forward,' said Karen Ebben, marketing services manager at Buick. 'We are impressed with McCann's enthusiasm for our brand strategies.'
McCann relocated Wilmot to Troy in January 1997 from its Frankfurt office. The executive said it is 'very, very routine' to access resources from other McCann offices.
'We're just putting the best people on the business,' Wilmot added. 'It's an advantage of our (agency) network.'
McCann's Detroit-area office last turned to the agency network for GM creative work in 1992, when its New York office did the $70 million-plus launch campaign for the GM Card.
Wilmot said he has taken over as managing director on the Buick account. Ander Wensberg, the previous managing director, was promoted in March to group account director on Motorola and relocated to New York.
Eric Einhorn, executive vice president and director of strategic management in McCann's New York office, also began overseeing strategic planning for Buick early this year.
He is working closely with Dann Balesky, senior vice president and research director in Troy. Balesky had worked on the GMC account.