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Campbell Ewald (US)

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Until comparatively recently, Campbell Ewald had traditionally been one of the biggest non-network agencies in the US, as well as one of the oldest, celebrating its centenary in 2011. Part of the Interpublic stable since 1972, it was for virtually all of its history one of the core agencies on the General Motors roster, handling the key Chevrolet account as well as other business. However, the agency suffered a serious blow in 2010 when GM announced plans to shift all advertising for Chevrolet passenger cars to another shop. CE remained on the GM roster, but in a greatly reduced form. The agency received a significant boost in 2013 when it captured part of the global Cadillac account. That prompted its realignment within the Interpublic portfolio to become the US hub for the Lowe network, which also resulted in the bolt-on of several Unilever accounts. But it was all change once again in 2015 with the loss of Cadillac, and CE's ejection from the Lowe network (which was aligned instead with Mullen). Another crisis was the loss of several accounts in 2016, following the emergence of a racist email sent out by a staff member and the subsequent dismissal of CEO Jim Palmer.

Clients

Click here for a Campbell Ewald client listing from Adbrands Account Assignments

Brands & Activities

Despite the broad range of services it offers Campbell-Ewald has traditionally maintained a comparatively low profile, busy managing a small group of key clients rather than engaging in too many pitches. As a result, there has been little new business of late, although most existing clients continue to reward the agency with additional work.

The portfolio was for years underpinned by flagship client General Motors, which until 2009 accounted for around 40% of total billings. That placed the agency in a position of some risk, especially in light of GM's difficulties at that time. In 2010, amid a general shake-up of its agency relationships, GM said it would move all of its Chevrolet advertising business elsewhere. That was a substantial blow - equivalent to around a quarter of annual revenues - although the agency retained responsibility for Chevrolet's dealership network, the OnStar communications system and various corporate programs.

In 2013, C-E became one of the three partners in a new IPG construct, Rogue, which was awarded the global Cadillac account. It works with Hill Holliday and Lowe, providing account management and digital for the brand, while Hill Holliday oversees the central creative concept. Shortly afterwards was realigned to become the US hub for Lowe, replacing Deutsch. Later the same year, Lowe re-established a presence in New York with the launch of a Lowe Campbell Ewald office in that city, into which Deutsch's collection of Unilever brands were transferred. However the loss of Cadillac precipitated yet another restructuring in 2015. Campbell-Ewald was dropped from the Lowe network (although it retains an affiliation) and was replaced by Interpublic stablemate Mullen. It still operates under the umbrella of MullenLowe Group.

An important recent win was a key role within Team Ignite, the dedicated unit formed within IPG to handle Harley-Davidson's account since 2016.

In addition to its main office in Detroit, CE also has representation in New York, Los Angeles and Miami. What was once a collection of separately branded marketing services satellites has for the most part been bundled into the main agency, allowing it offer almost any form of below-the-line service from custom publishing and experiential to media and direct marketing.

In 2007, Advertising Age had estimated combined revenues of $239m for C-E. By 2010, before the loss of the main Chevrolet account, that figure had fallen to $157m. Ad Age estimated $88m for 2016.

Background

The agency was founded in 1911 by Frank Campbell and Henry Ewald. Campbell was a former newspaper ad sales manager who set up a small Detroit brokerage in 1907 to buy and sell ad space. Ewald was from the client side of the industry, a former marketer for Studebaker and other small auto companies. They joined forces in 1911 to form Campbell-Ewald with one main account, the Hyatt Roller Bearing Company, run by one Alfred Sloan. It was to prove a very important relationship. In 1916, Hyatt was acquired by William Durant, the tycoon behind General Motors. He slotted the company into another conglomerate he was building under the name United Motors Service, producing components for auto manufacturing. Another acquisition at the same time was Dayton Engineering Laboratories, generally known as Delco, and Alfred Sloan was appointed president of this new division.

As Sloan rose through the hierarchy of GM, he pushed a number of ever more important accounts Campbell-Ewald's way. Delco became a client in 1917, the same year Frank Campbell sold his shareholding to Ewald and retired from the business to travel the world as an adventurer. Chevrolet joined the portfolio in 1919. In 1923, Alfred Sloan became president of GM, and handed C-E the group's entire advertising budget. By 1929, Campbell-Ewald was the 2nd biggest agency in the US with a staggering (for the time) $26m in billings, and 13 offices including outposts in Canada and Australia.

It was not to last. When the Depression caused car sales to plummet, GM decided to protect its business by establishing its various marques as distinct and separate brands. In 1933, the group decentralised its portfolio, assigning a different agency to each car. Campbell-Ewald was allowed to keep Chevrolet, as well as the various non-auto-manufacturing businesses it had taken on, including Delco and GMAC. Oldsmobile was placed with DP Brother, an offshoot of Campbell-Ewald. (The account was taken over by Leo Burnett when it acquired Bother in 1967). Pontiac and Cadillac went to MacManus, John & Adams, another Campbell-Ewald offshoot.

In 1939, C-E set up a new subsidiary, Motor City Publishing, to launch one of the first customer magazines, Friends For Chevy. After World War II, the agency was a key player on behalf of Chevrolet in the rapid development of television advertising. However Ewald died tragically in a rock slide accident in 1953. During the 1950s and 1960s, the agency worked hard to reduce its reliance on General Motors, which still accounted for 60% of billings by the end of the decade. But it was precisely the GM connection which presented the biggest attraction to McCann-Erickson's expanding marketing umbrella Interpublic. In 1972, Interpublic acquired Campbell-Ewald in what was at the time the ad industry's biggest ever merger, and combined it with their second-string agency Marschalk.

The agency went through a series of reorganisations in the years that followed. In 1973 it took a ill-considered step into the UK, acquiring local agency Wasey Pritchard Wood Quadrant, which became Wasey Campbell-Ewald. Marschalk Campbell-Ewald Worldwide, a network of 14 international agencies, was established two years later. But the business had a rough ride and was merged in 1983 into fast-expanding independent Lowe Howard-Spink after it was acquired by IPG. Back in the US, C-E was merged with Lintas to become Lintas: Campbell-Ewald, but this arrangement too was dismantled in 1995, when Lintas was merged with Ammirati & Puris instead.

Campbell-Ewald was given back its "virtual independence" in 1997, allowed to operate as a standalone within the IPG portfolio. By this time, however, GM once again dominated the client portfolio, contributing around 80% of billings. Since then, C-E has gone all out to reduce its dependency once again. The addition of other clients had reduced GM to 50% of billings by early 2000.

In late 2001 the agency announced plans to make a return to the international marketplace. An office opened in Frankfurt, Germany the following year, but was later closed. There was also for a while a low-key presence in Dubai to service GM client AC Delco. In the US, Campbell-Ewald managed for many years the operations of GM Mediaworks, a specialist unit which handled media buying for all General Motors brands. That unit shut down following the loss of the business to Starcom Mediavest in 2005.

Tony Hopp retired as chairman & CEO at the end of 2009 after 41 years at Campbell-Ewald. He was replaced by Bill Ludwig, previously vice chairman & chief creative officer. Ludwig too announced his retirement in summer 2013, and was succeeded as CEO by Jim Palmer, previously chief client officer. However Palmer was himself dismissed in early 2016, following the emergence of a jokey but arguably racist email issued several months earlier by a member of the creative department. Palmer seems to have been held responsible by Interpublic for not disciplining that staffer immediately. He was replaced by Kevin Wertz, previously president. However, the email led to the loss of client USAA, and two further clients departed a month later.

Last full revision 23rd March 2018

* Archive page for historical reference only. This profile is no longer being actively updated. See active page here *


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