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GM drops ad agency after nearly a century

Sat., April 24, 2010, midnight

DETROIT – General Motors has replaced the advertising agency that brought you such memorable campaigns as “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” and “Like a Rock” after more than 90 years of work.

Campbell-Ewald, headquartered in the Detroit suburb of Warren, will be phased out of the Chevrolet account during the next few months, replaced by Publicis Worldwide, which is part of French advertising company Publicis Groupe SA.

GM spokeswoman Cristianna Vazquez would not give a reason for the move, but GM executives in recent months have stated publicly that they were unhappy with the company’s advertising and marketing.

The agency, which has had Chevrolet business since 1919 and at times has had all of GM’s advertising, also did Chevrolet’s “Heartbeat of America” campaign.

For decades, the agency’s ads changed with the times, capturing America’s love affair with cars and pickup trucks.

A generation grew up singing “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” with Dinah Shore in the 1950s. In the 1990s and 2000s, Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” provided a soundtrack for the tough Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

But recent campaigns never reached indelible status like those.

Since GM emerged from bankruptcy protection last July, its executives have been critical of its advertising, with some saying it didn’t do enough to erase the perception that GM built lower-quality vehicles than Asian competitors.

New Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, who is featured in two television ads encouraging people to try GM products, has said the company made great strides in product development and manufacturing quality, “but we were seriously deficient in getting the word out,” Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said in a recent interview.


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