DETROIT -- Blame the Super Bowl TV spot that stuck the brawny Escalade in a fashion show.
General Motors has pulled about half of its Cadillac advertising business -- work worth an estimated $160 million -- from the brand's longtime agency, Leo Burnett USA. GM gave the work to Modernista, of Boston, which handles GM's Hummer ad account.
At the same time, GM called a review of its $40 million ad account for Goodwrench dealer parts and service. Leo Burnett also handles that account.
Cadillac's new director of global marketing, Liz Vanzura, previously held the same position at Hummer. In the latter job, she worked closely with Modernista executives.
Insiders say GM executives were displeased with Burnett's glitzy Super Bowl commercial for the Escalade. It showed the SUV on a 100-foot mirrored runway as the centerpiece of a fashion show.
A Cadillac spokesman says the company seeks "fresh creative." The Burnett agency has handled Cadillac advertising since at least the 1930s.
The agency is surrendering creative work and regional advertising for Cadillac's CTS sedan, SRX crossover, V-Series performance models and other projects. It will continue to handle advertising for the Escalade as well as the DTS, STS and XLR models.
James Moore, president of Leo Burnett Detroit, declined to comment on the ad shift.
Vanzura worked with Modernista's founder, Lance Jensen, at Hummer. They previously worked together at the Arnold agency in Boston, where he was group creative director on the Volkswagen of America account and she was ad director.
Troubles have plagued Burnett's GM business in recent years. Patrick Sherwood, CEO of Chemistri (now Leo Burnett Detroit) in Troy, Mich., quit in 2004. So did the agency's top creative executive, Gary Topolewski.
For the Escalade fashion show spot, Burnett rented a former airplane hangar in Los Angeles. The ad featured supermodels such as Rachel Hunter, and 250 extras.
Three of five Escalade buyers are men. An increasing number of marketers assert that women don't want a perceived "chick" car any more than men do.
The Cadillac spokesman denies the company is unhappy with Burnett. "We just wanted to bring fresh creative to those product lines" he says.
Adds Mark LaNeve, GM's vice president of North American sales, service and marketing: "We have lots of good (ad) agencies that we do business with. We use creative from others outside the core agency on occasion. Lots of companies do this."