Cadillac drops Lowe ad agency for Publicis

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Cadillac has hired Publicis Worldwide as its global creative agency, its third ad agency in a year and a half, and the latest in several changes for the luxury brand.

Cadillac had been with Interpublic Group of Companies’ Lowe and Partners agency since 2013. Much of that work was done in Detroit by Lowe Campbell Ewald, the U.S. hub for Lowe and Partners. It was not immediately clear what the change would mean for Lowe Campbell Ewald’s employment in Detroit.

“Publicis Worldwide is the largest creative agency of the Publicis Groupe network and its appointment to Cadillac is effective immediately,” Cadillac said in a statement Thursday.

Cadillac spokesman David Caldwell said Lowe and Partners may retain some individual projects, though he declined to elaborate. “But the bulk of marketing and advertising work will be done by Publicis Worldwide,” he said in an email.

In a statement, Jim Palmer, CEO of Lowe Campbell Ewald, said he was surprised by the announcement.

“While it’s the nature of our business for clients to move to other agencies, this decision was still unexpected, not to mention very hard on those of us who have poured our love of the brand and our non-stop hard work into this partnership for the past 18 months,” Palmer said. “Fortunately, we have a talented pool of employees, a diverse roster of more than 35 clients, and a number of exciting new business opportunities that will allow us to move forward with determined resilience and a commitment to continued success.”

Cadillac spent about $279 million in advertising last year and about $172 million in the first half of 2014, according to Kantar Media.

In January, Lowe Campbell Ewald moved its Warren advertising agency and more than 500 employees to offices at Ford Field in Detroit. Kelly Barnes, director of corporate communications for Lowe Campbell Ewald, said the company is unsure yet how the change will impact its Detroit offices, as transition discussions have not occurred.

It’s a big blow to the local ad company, which lost a major contract with Chevrolet in 2010 after 91 years. The company worked to develop jingles and taglines such as “Like a Rock” and “Heartbeat of America” for the brand.

The Cadillac work is a big part of Lowe Campbell Ewald’s business, but is not its largest client. The company has diversified its client base to include companies such as General Motors Co.’s OnStar brand, the U.S. Navy, LifeLock, Atkins and others.

Cadillac announced in September plans to open a headquarters in New York City early next year. GM recently named a new president for the luxury brand, Johan de Nysschen, who will introduce a new vehicle naming system and is working to reshape Cadillac’s brand perception and image.

“This appointment is designed to accelerate the global expansion and elevation of Cadillac into a truly global luxury brand,” Cadillac Chief Marketing Officer Uwe Ellinghaus said of the agency change. “We have spent much of this year refocusing on the core values of our brand. Adding Publicis Worldwide to our team — with its undisputed expertise in luxury brand building — will further our progress globally.”

Ellinghaus said in the statement that he appreciated the dedication and service Lowe brought to the brand.

“The agency has aided Cadillac in a time of transition and contributed significantly to the development of its brand positioning,” he said in a statement.

In September, Interpublic Group said it was dropping the Rogue name — an agency created for Cadillac more than a year ago — and was realigning to support Cadillac’s global ambitions. Work was being done from Detroit and New York.

That move follows a change in 2013 when Cadillac in June of that year announced it was dropping Fallon Worldwide as its advertising agency in favor of Rogue, which included Interpublic Group’s Hill Holiday, Lowe and Campbell Ewald. Campwell Ewald, based in Warren until it moved in January to Detroit, also announced in summer 2013 it was partnering with London-based Lowe and Partners Worldwide and becoming Lowe Campbell Ewald.

Publicis is the largest agency of Paris-based Publicis Groupe and has more than 9,000 employees in more than 80 countries. Its U.S. base is in New York.

Cadillac said a team of key managers from Publicis Worldwide will lead the account and have access to specialists and resources from Publicis Groupe.

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