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Modernista loses Cadillac

GM to seek new advertising agency for luxury car division

Modernista created this print advertisement for Cadillac. Modernista created this print advertisement for Cadillac.
By Johnny Diaz
Globe Staff / October 10, 2009

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Cadillac is leaving Boston advertising agency Modernista at the curb. The company will lose its biggest account after General Motors Corp. said yesterday it will seek a new agency to handle advertising for its luxury car division.

Tracy Brady, director of communications for Modernista, said the split, which took place during a review meeting, was over “creative and strategic differences.’’

Nick Twork, a spokesman for Cadillac, would not give any details about why the three-year relationship is ending. “It’s a matter between Modernista and Cadillac,’’ he said. “They’ve been a valued partner throughout the time they have been with our agency.’’

But during an online chat yesterday, Cadillac chief executive Fritz Henderson was more candid. “We think we can do better,’’ he said. “We have done some good marketing and advertising in the past, but we do think we can take it up another level.’’

Modernista, which has 130 employees, in Boston, Detroit, and Amsterdam, has worked with GM for nine years, also overseeing its Hummer advertising. That business, too, will go away this winter, with the sale of the Hummer brand to a Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer.

The agency went through two rounds of layoffs last year, but Brady declined to comment on whether the loss of the Cadillac account would result in additional job cuts.

“We are extremely proud of the work we created for both Hummer and Cadillac,’’ said Lance Jensen and Gary Koepke, cofounders of Modernista, in a statement.

The agency recently produced a flashy spot for Cadillac called “Reignition,’’ which features the automaker’s new 2010 wagon and SUV models racing in the desert.

The decision to look for a new ad agency came as General Motors tries to recapture sales, following its emergence from bankruptcy. In addition to Hummer, the company is selling off its Saab division and will discontinue the Pontiac and Saturn brands to focus on GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and Buick.

Cadillac said it has hired Ark Advisors, a management consulting firm with offices in New York and Los Angeles, to search for a new agency.

Modernista’s other clients include the National Park Foundation and the Palm Pre.

Johnny Diaz can be reached at jodiaz@globe.com. Material from Globe wire services was used in this report.