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BBDO Detroit to Close as It Loses Chrysler; Twitter Was No Help

The fat lady has sung for BBDO Detroit. The agency will close in January, CEO Andrew Robertson told staffers, as Chrysler is not expected to re-up the shop's contract, according to Ad Age.

BNET noted that Omnicom CEO John Wren all-but announced that BBDO was doomed on the Chrysler account in his Q3 2009 earnings call. On the media side, PHD already saw its business placed in review -- it now cannot expect to win that contest (as the creative will be at a competing holding company).

About 485 employees will lose their jobs. The agency employed 2,000 at its height.

The move was predicted by almost everybody. "Almost"? If you read between the lines of this BNET item from August, you can, perhaps, divine that there was a whispering campaign from some at BBDO who sought to deny reports of the agency's imminent demise from Chrysler.

At one point, it was suggested that Chrysler's Oct. 14 Twitter post ("A new spot from Chrysler Group and BBDO on the Chrysler 300C http://bit.ly/DDuEP") was evidence that the agency's relationship with Chrysler was unaffected and that reports such as this one were unconfirmed baloney.

At another juncture, Globalhue's horribly received new work for Jeep -- it doesn't even show the car! -- was sent to BNET as if it were evidence that Chrysler had made a terrible mistake and was going to collapse, teary-eyed and apologetic, back into BBDO's forgiving arms.

Of course, BBDO has every right to defend its reputation, particularly when faced with reports based on anonymous sources from within Chrysler and agencies seeking to persuade the client to give them BBDO's work. But this is the internet age, and transparency gets you further than spin. The lesson: If your agency is on the rocks with a client, attempting to convince the media that it ain't so is a very short investment indeed.

Full statement from BBDO after the video of Globalhue's new Jeep spot:

FROM BBDO DETROIT RE: CHRYSLER ====================================

DETROIT, MI, NOVEMBER 9, 2009-- On July 30th, Chrysler wrote to us stating that, while they wished to continue to work with BBDO and wanted to discuss a new scope and terms for the future, they were not prepared to continue under the current contractual framework.

As of today, we have been unable to reach such an agreement.

While we remain committed to working with Chrysler and are hopeful that an agreement can be reached, we now have to assume and plan for the fact that our relationship will end when our contract does on January 26, 2010.

We have a moral obligation to give our people as much notice as possible to plan for their futures, and a commercial one to plan for the likely closure of the BBDO Detroit office. We have, therefore, today given notice to the BBDO Detroit staff that the agency will close at the end of January.

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