The Rev. Jesse Jackson met with the top two marketing executives at Chrysler group on Tuesday in Auburn Hills, Mich., to discuss the company's search for an agency to handle its multicultural advertising account.
Chrysler put its black and Hispanic advertising accounts into review April 28, saying it no longer wants separate agencies to reach out exclusively to black and Hispanic consumers.
Chrysler's new multicultural focus is on "urban marketing," which the company says can apply to consumers of all ages and colors by creating trendy, hip messages with a blend of various cultures.
Chrysler's senior vice president of global brand marketing, George Murphy, who attended the meeting, has said that the winning agency need not be one of color, but one that has the expertise and resources to handle the company's new vision. The meeting also included Jim Schroer, executive vice president of global sales and marketing.
Jackson said he wanted Chrysler, the U.S. arm of DaimlerChrysler A.G., to "remain sensitive to agencies of color. It is in their own interest that they not be culturally blind to the market."
Jackson said it was premature to say what action he might recommend if an agency of color does not get the account. But he said that he "would not feel good at all.
"Urban cannot mean elimination" of minority agencies, he said. "When you're looking for market growth, you must have market inclusion and sensitivity."
The former Don Coleman Advertising Inc. in Southfield, Mich., has handled Chrysler's black advertising since 1994. Chrysler's Hispanic agency, the former Montemayor y Asociados in San Antonio, has had that account since 1987. On April 1, Coleman merged both agencies under GlobalHue, in Southfield, to focus on urban marketing.
In late April, Chrysler selected semifinalists for the account, which included GlobalHue and four others that formed alliances, some comprising black, Hispanic, Asian and white-owned agencies.
"By (Chrysler's) own admission, Don Coleman has the talent and capacity and is growing. We can't keep assuming that large companies are competent because they are large," Jackson said. "African American, Hispanic and Asian agencies are underused and their talent underutilized. There are African Americans qualified to go to the next level."
Both Chrysler spokesman James Kenyon and Jackson described the meeting as good.
"He understands our position, and we understand his," Kenyon said.