Chryslers New $40 Million Ethnic Marketing Strategy
By Ken Smikle
In an unexpected annocement, Daimler Chryslers Chrysler Group has put
African- American and Hispanic advertising accounts under review. The action
raised numerous questions about the automakers future strategy and budget
ethnic marketing, and its commitment to assign the accounts to minority-owned
The incumbent agencies, Don Coleman Advertising and Montemayor y Asociados,
informed of the review last week, at the same time that letters were being sent
inviting presentations from other agencies. DCA was generating $25 million in
annual billings from Chrysler, while Montemayor was receiving $15 million. Both
agencies were consolidated last week into the newly formed GlobalHue, of which
Don Coleman is chairman and CEO.
Chrysler officials said new agencies will be chosen in eight weeks and that
review will also usher in a number of changes in their approach to attract
ethnic consumers. James Kenyon, Chryslers senior manager of sales and
pr, told Target Market News that of the approximately 20 agencies that were
invitations to bid, most are multicultural shops. He would not comment
many were black-owned or Hispanicowned. Compensation for these agencies will
change from a commission basis that produced an estimated $40 milllion in
billings to one based on fees and incentives. Kenyon said revenues going
these companies will be between $4 million and $6 million.
We are moving away from solely dedicated creative for African Americans,
Americans, Hispanic Americans and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
communities, stated Jeff Bell, vice president, marketing communications,
Chrysler Group. Instead, we are moving toward serving those dedicated
and, at the same time, doing a much better job of urban marketing in general.
Since arriving from Ford a year ago, Bell has been shaking up Chryslers
marketing practices with an emphasis on reducing costs. In a December 2001 story
in the Wall Street Journal, Bell said that the car company reduced the total
number of ads it produced in 2000 from 85 to 40. Its not a matter
and minority, Bell was quoted as saying in the article, Its
a matter of major
influencers in popular culture.
One strategy Chrysler hopes to use in African- American and Hispanic ads and
commercials is to make them more ethnically neutral, by de-emphasizing
race of people portrayed. Keynon said the objective is to have agencies utilize
creative that is vertical and also can be used in the general market so
just doesnt just show up on BET but will be on ESPN and Fox and other
as well. [We] want to say that this ad is going to be in Black Enterprise and
People and Esquire.
In this weeks Advertising Age, Bell cited what the sports shoe company
is doing through its agency, the Arnell Group as an example of an approach that
he finds appealing. They are trying to do it with an urban mindset,
quoted as saying. The Arnell Group was hired by Chrysler one month after Jeff
Bells arrival last year to be a strategic partner with PentaMark, its
In a press release, DCA asserts that through research it conducted with
Yankelovich, it has pioneered the Urban Mindset attitudinal model.
opportunists coming to the fore with no credentials who want to capitalize on
the urban mindset, said Coleman in the release. GlobalHue offers
market performance to its clients. Though invited to make presentations,
Coleman told Target Market News hes not certain his incumbent agencies
pitch to retain Chryslers business. Chryslers new approach to marketing
African- Americans is departure not only from its own tradition, but from the
practices of virtually all other automakers. Growing competition for the $31
billion that black households spend on cars and trucks has made the expertise
African-American agencies a necessity rather than a luxury throughout the auto
Last fall Toyota appointed Burrell Communications in Chicago as it first
African-American ad agency. Two months ago, General Motors announced that it
consolidating all of its black-oriented adver- tising under the Carol H.
Williams agency in Oakland, California. In February Mazada selected the Wimbley
Group in suburban Chicago as its first black ad agency. Nissan, which previously
worked with Carol H. Williams, is expected to announce a new African- American
agency within days.
There are two African- American owned agencies with auto marketing experience
but that are currently without a car company on their rosters; the Chisholm-
Mingo Group in New York most recently worked on GM and E. Morris Communications
in Chicago handled Oldsmobile.