Six months after taking over as BMW of North America's top marketing executive, Dan Creed is searching for a new ad agency.
And TV will get the lion's share of an account estimated by Advertising Age at $160 million.
Creed, 44, moved into the position on Oct. 1, less than two months after the accidental death of his predecessor, Jack Pitney. His first decision -- a week into the job -- was to advertise in the Super Bowl for the first time in 10 years.
In late October, BMW's lead agency, Omnicom Group's GSD&M Idea City, announced unexpectedly that it would end its five-year relationship with BMW on Jan. 1. GSD&M developed the "Joy of Driving" campaign, showing happy BMW owners and their cars.
The campaign was controversial. Internet critics blasted BMW for abandoning its "Ultimate Driving Machine" tag line. BMW says it has not abandoned the slogan.
Last month Creed formally launched the search for a new agency to handle national brand, regional and dealer advertising, and multicultural marketing. The work currently is parceled out to various agencies.
Creed says BMW will spend more on advertising this year than in 2010 but will not return to prerecession levels. He would not give the size of the marketing budget.
He says new advertising will focus on TV and social media, promoting new and redesigned vehicles such as the X3 crossover. Later in the year, BMW will launch campaigns citing innovations and technologies said to set it apart from the competition.
Creed says BMW marketing will be influenced by a motto he used in BMW's aftersales: "Simpler, faster and better."
The two 30-second Super Bowl commercials showed BMW's new approach. One spot emphasized that the redesigned X3 crossover is built in Spartanburg, S.C., for the world and was designed in the United States.
The other commercial contrasted older, soot-spewing diesel vehicles, including a Mercedes-Benz and a Volvo, with BMW's modern 3-series diesel.
Creed, who was born in Canada, grew up in the business. His father was a Chevrolet dealer in Buffalo, N.Y. As a student at the University of Ottawa, he earned spending money buying cars at auction and flipping them to fellow students. After college he sold cars at a Saab, Saturn and Isuzu dealership in Toronto and eventually became general manager.
He joined BMW Canada in 1996 and became marketing manager at age 30. Creed came to the United States in 2003 to run certified used-vehicle sales and later various sales regions and then aftermarket sales.
Under Creed, most of BMW's marketing money is still being spent on TV -- especially live events that viewers aren't likely to record and then skip over the commercials. Along with the Super Bowl, BMW ran commercials during last month's Academy Awards broadcast and plans to advertise heavily during major golf tournaments and Sunday night football this year.
Dealers say Creed told them at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in February that national TV will eat up 68 percent of the budget and local TV another 8 percent. About 15 percent is being spent on digital marketing, including the Internet and mobile device ads, and 2 percent in movies. The remaining 7 percent goes to print.
Says Creed: "If you want to
get to a large audience with a clear message, TV right now is as good as it gets."