NEW YORK -- Nine years after consolidating its global advertising account at Omnicom Group's BBDO, Chrysler is reaching out beyond its agency of record for creative ideas related to its fourth-quarter ad campaign, according to executives familiar with the matter.
The move comes as the automaker emerges from bankruptcy and reorganizes under the global alliance it struck with Fiat S.p.A. It also follows the installation of a new marketing boss, Michael Accavitti.
It's expected that agencies from other holding companies will be invited to pitch ideas, given that Chrysler's new partner, Fiat, works with a variety of shops, including leading independent Italian agency Armando Testa; Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett and its Arc Worldwide arm; and WPP's United.
BBDO will be invited to participate in the jump ball for fourth-quarter creative, and remains the lead on account management and planning, executives said. Media duties, handled by Omnicom's PHD, are not affected by the review.
Whatever the outcome of the talks, Chrysler's decision to ask outside agencies for creative ideas is a slap in the face for BBDO, which has stuck by Chrysler amid its bankruptcy and dwindling agency fees. BBDO's contract with Chrysler is up in January.
When BBDO emerged the big winner in the Chrysler consolidation in 2000, the account was estimated to be worth $2.4 billion, and the agency's Detroit office -- exclusively devoted to serving the Dodge, Jeep and Chrysler brands -- numbered some 2,000 staffers. By last count, that office now numbers less than 500 people.
BBDO representatives referred calls to Chrysler.
A Chrysler spokeswoman told Advertising Age:
"As a new company, we are looking for fresh and creative ways to approach our communications in the marketplace. With our partners at Fiat, we are soliciting creative input from a select group of agencies."
She said Chrysler doesn't view the initiative as an official agency review, and that BBDO remains agency of record and will be invited to participate in the process.