DETROIT -- Bill Ludwig will become Campbell-Ewald's chairman and CEO on Jan. 1, taking the reins of an advertising agency amid uncertainty over its biggest and oldest client -- Chevrolet.
Ludwig, 54, currently the agency's chief creative and strategic officer, will replace Tony Hopp, who is retiring at the end of the year after 13 years in those roles, the suburban Detroit-based agency said in a statement Tuesday.
Hopp, 64, has spent his entire 41-year advertising career with Campbell-Ewald and will remain a part-time employee through 2013 as a senior adviser for finances, business planning, strategy and problem solving for key clients.
Ludwig's immediate challenge will be guiding the agency as General Motors Co. continues to chart its own future since emerging from bankruptcy over the summer. That has included reducing its brands to four, with Chevrolet as the core, and redistributing its ad dollars.
Aggressively defending current work, such as Chevy, while pursuing a new slate of diverse clients has been the agency's plan for some time and will continue to be after the transition, Ludwig said.
“When we're in the hunt, there's no more formidable agency out there,” he said.
GM, which first hired Campbell-Ewald as its Chevy agency of record in 1922, said in October that it will entertain pitches for certain Chevrolet assignments while C-E remains the agency of record.
History means nothing
That long history doesn't mean GM won't dump the agency if it doesn't deliver, Hopp said.
“The length of our relationship, and I've said this for 15 years, means nothing,” he said. “This is all about performance.”
Over the first 11 months of 2009, Chevy's new U.S. vehicle sales plunged 27 to 1.2 million vehicles, down 27 percent compared with the same period in 2008. GM said today that Chevy sales in November rose 5 percent as the U.S. market begins to gain traction.
The automaker has spent $495.3 million on advertising the brand so far this year, compared to $795 million for all of 2008, according to New York City-based ad spending trackers TNS Media Intelligence.
Campbell-Ewald has a stable of 35 clients, 22 of which are headquartered outside of Michigan.
Ludwig joined Campbell-Ewald in 1984 and most recently led its creative staff of 450 people in Warren and Los Angeles. The agency has about 1,100 employees.
Prior to joining C-E, he was with D'Arcy-MacManus Masius. In 1994, he was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Advertising Hall of Achievement, and he's also served as a Cannes juror, is a member of the Wall Street Journal's Creative Leaders and serves on the Ad Council.
“(Ludwig) really is a visionary is our business and in our industry,” said Hopp, who began planning his retirement and executive transition in 2003.
The men first worked together, on the Chevy account, in 1986 and Hopp said his confidence in Ludwig made him his choice as successor.
“I have absolutely no doubt that this team, whether that I'm here or not, is going to deliver the most powerful marketing thinking and advertising and communications to Chevrolet,” he said.
Campbell-Ewald is owned by New York City-based advertising conglomerate Interpublic Group of Cos., and GM is IPG's No. 1 worldwide client, reportedly generating an estimated 5 percent of IPG's $6.9 billion revenue last year.