"That spot continues to run today, so I have to believe that they are still embracing and supporting that ad," Moore told Automotive News.
Whatever its cause, the change represents a big loss for Burnett. The agency, in various incarnations, has worked with Cadillac since 1935. Cadillac spent more than $226 million to advertise in U.S. media last year, TNS Media Intelligence reports.
"This appears (to be) how GM is going to operate," Moore says. "Cadillac wanted Modernista to take a look at what they're doing from a creative standpoint. We want Cadillac to be successful."
Starting in 2002 under Moore's predecessor, Burnett's "Break Through" campaign for Cadillac has helped propel the luxury brand's image makeover. It has used rock music, an emphasis on speed and appearances in rap videos to appeal to a younger, hipper customer base.
Burnett gets a vote of confidence from Pontiac Marketing Director Mark-Hans Richer, who says his company is "extraordinarily happy" with the agency. Richer says Burnett has been "a great partner in helping to remake the brand. It would be incredibly disingenuous to not continue to work with the people who have helped to bring us here."
Cadillac evidently thinks differently. But if Moore can take the long view, it's because he's seen this sort of thing before. He was previously an executive with Foote Cone & Belding, which had the Chrysler and Jeep brand accounts. In 2000, DaimlerChrysler AG consolidated its Chrysler group ad accounts with BBDO Worldwide.
Pimp my Lucerne
Another GM brand is finding favor among the hip-hop crowd. The average Buick owner is 65 years old. But DUB magazine, with readers who are considerably younger, customized a Lucerne to display at a GM fashion show tied to this year's Oscars in Hollywood. DUB is featuring the sedan in a 16-city series of car shows.
DUB's chief rival, Rides magazine, is talking with Buick about tricking out a Lucerne to show in an upcoming issue. Buick officials say they
didn't initiate the contact.
"We didn't market toward this specific group," says Buick spokesman David Darovitz. "They are coming to us saying, 'This car is cool; we can do a lot with it.' "
When he ran marketing for Mitsubishi Motors North America, Ian Beavis got a lot of attention when he pulled Mitsubishi's TV spots off broadcast networks. Beavis, who now runs marketing for Kia Motors America, was asked about that decision at an Association of National Advertisers TV ad forum in New York last month.
Mitsubishi, Beavis said, "had more problems than you could count before I even got there." Although the company resumed advertising on network TV, he said, its problems "went way beyond advertising," and its sales "continued to plunge."
"There is some resiliency in the brand, but changing the media strategy isn't going to fix it," Beavis said. But he wouldn't offer his former employers advice. He said, "They wouldn't listen to me while I was there."
You may e-mail Laura Clark Geist at [email protected]