Ludwig replaced as Campbell Ewald CEO; agency's name changing to Lowe Campbell Ewald
Bill Ludwig is out as CEO of Cadillac's advertising agency, Campbell Ewald, and the firm is changing its name, corporate parent Interpublic Group of Cos. Inc. said today.
Jim Palmer, who had been the agency's chief client officer, replaces Ludwig as CEO of the agency that now will be called Lowe Campbell Ewald as it becomes the U.S. hub for London-based sibling firm Lowe and Partners Worldwide, IPG said.
Kathleen Donald, the agency's current president and a managing director, becomes COO.
The moves come on the heels of Campbell Ewald, Lowe and Boston-based Hill Holliday jointly winning the $244 million on Cadillac advertising account last month under a consortium effort called Rogue, and Campbell Ewald's decision to leave the Detroit suburb of Warren after more than 30 years for office space being retrofitted in downtown Detroit, in a building adjoining the Detroit Lions' stadium, Ford Field.
"Jim Palmer has been a key driver of client growth at the agency for some time now and recently led the IPG team that won the Cadillac assignment. He'll be a strong CEO for Lowe Campbell Ewald, working alongside Kathleen, Chief Creative Officer Mark Simon and a cohesive senior team," said Interpublic Chairman and CEO Michael Roth in a statement.
IPG didn't provide details about Ludwig's departure, but did hint that he may yet work with the advertising holding company.
"Ludwig is at work on an exciting new chapter in a storied career, which could see him remain connected to IPG. This new venture will leverage his combination of business leadership and creative talent, and details are expected to be announced in the near future," IPG said in a statement.
Rumors of Ludwig's departure had swirled in Detroit and New York advertising circles for some time, but IPG and the agency declined to comment. Ludwig has not returned repeated messages.
"Bill Ludwig is leaving the agency poised for growth. We wish him well and thank him for his many contributions to the agency over a 31-year career, including putting in place a new generation of management that understands contemporary integrated marketing and the digital landscape," Roth said in a statement.
Automotive News affiliate Advertising Age, citing confidential sources, first reported the expected CEO switch last month.
Ludwig, who joined the agency as a copywriter in 1982, rose to the top job in January 2009 to replace Tony Hopp, who retired after 13 years in the lead executive role at Campbell Ewald.
Ludwig created or helped birth the "Like A Rock," "Heartbeat of America" and "An American Revolution" campaigns for Chevy, an account that was lost in April 2009 after 91 years.
A psychology-turned-writing major at Western Michigan University, Ludwig was writing sketches with future comedy actor Tim Allen when he had a chance meeting at a party that led to a job at a company that syndicated ad campaigns to car dealers.
A year later, in 1980, he joined D'Arcy-MacManus Masius as a copy writer working on Pontiac. Four years later, he was hired as a senior copy writer at Campbell Ewald and first worked on a Corvette launch.
Two years later, he began working with Tony Hopp on Chevy. He also turned down a chance to work at the agency's South Africa office and instead took a job as an associate creative director.
As Ludwig's replacement, Palmer will oversee the firm's participation in Rogue, which has Campbell Ewald managing the Cadillac account, Hill Holliday doing the creative work and Lowe doing digital and export work.
Rogue replaces incumbent Minneapolis-based Fallon Worldwide Inc., which has an office downtown and got the work in 2010.
GM spent nearly $244 million on Cadillac advertising last year, according to data provided by Kantar Media Inc. That's a decline from $257 million in 2011.
The Cadillac deal is believed to have been in the works for several months, and the likelihood of a contract may have been the impetus for Campbell Ewald to ink an 11-year lease with the Detroit Lions this year on 122,000 square feet of unfinished office space on five floors in what is a former J.L. Hudson Co. warehouse that became part of the NFL team's stadium that opened in 2002.
The ad agency said it will build out the space and begin to move in by the end of the year, or in early 2014.
Campbell Ewald has about 700 staffers now, down from more than 1,200 five years ago. About 600 are expected to make the move downtown when the Ford Field office is ready.
The agency's 160,000-square-foot, 10-story office tower on Van Dyke Avenue in Warren, which has been the firm's home since leaving Detroit in 1978, is expected to be put on the market.
Campbell Ewald had estimated U.S. revenue of $121 million in 2012 and is the nation's 68th largest ad firm by that metric, according to the Advertising Age DataCenter's most recent industry rankings. In 2007, it brought in an estimated $239 million in revenue.
Campbell Ewald also has offices in Los Angeles and San Antonio. Clients include Alltel Wireless, Carrier, Chicken of the Sea, Consumers Energy, Kaiser Permanente, Olympic Paints and Stains, OnStar, USAA, the U.S. Navy and Western Governors University.
The $600 million Chevy work went to Publicis Worldwide and its roster of agencies, before ending up with IPG-owned McCann Worldgroup last year.
But it wasn't a total divorce between GM and Campbell Ewald: The agency kept dealer, OnStar and the automaker's customer relationship-management accounts. The CRM work is believed to have largely shifted to the Detroit office of IPG-owned digital marketing firm MRM Worldwide, which was already doing Cadillac CRM work.
In April, General Motors hired Campbell Ewald managing director Steve Majoros as director of global Cadillac marketing.
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