Goodby’s Split with GM’s Commonwealth Confirmed [Updated]

McCann will run Chevy ad entity, add GSP staffers

It's confirmed: McCann Worldgroup is taking over control of Commonwealth, the global joint venture created a year ago to work for General Motors' global Chevrolet business. Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is out of the partnership, effective immediately, but McCann said "All current employees of Goodby's Detroit office will be offered employment consistent with their current employment terms."

It could not immediately be determined the number of current GS&P staffers, who are part of Commonwealth but the S.F. agency told Detroit news sources a year ago that it planned to have up to 280 employees in its Detroit offices in the Palms Building opposite Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. McCann will also assume GS&P's lease for that space.

Interpublic's McCann said Commonwealth will continue to work with Agency 720, which handles Chevy dealer work, and PR firm Fleishman-Hillard, both owned by GS&P parent Omnicom.

Harris Diamond, who became CEO of McCann Worldgroup in November, has played an active role in driving the change. Diamond, who was scheduled to moderate a Monday morning political discussion panel at the 4A's Transformation conference in New Orleans, canceled at the last minute due to a meeting with a client believed to be GM. Final details have been hammered out early this week and Goodby co-founder Jeff Goodby traveled to Detroit on Tuesday.

Last March, the Commonwealth initiative was created by Joel Ewanick, who was then GM's global CMO. Goodby took the creative lead role in the United States (Chevrolet’s largest market), while McCann handled the brand in international markets like Mexico, Canada, Brazil, India, Japan, China and Latin America. A global board of eight people led Commonwealth, including McCann creative leaders Linus Karlsson, Prasoon Joshi, Washington Olivetto and Goodby himself.

At the time of Commonwealth’s creation, sources said agency parent companies Omnicom and Interpublic negotiated a notice period and payout in the event the partnership did not continue in its original agency formation. It could not immediately be determined how that would be affected by negotiations for Goodby staffers to stay on at Commonwealth under McCann’s hire.

Goodby has has worked on Chevrolet since May 2010, when Ewanick shifted the U.S. business without a review. (Ewanick had worked with the agency in previous roles at Hyundai Motors America and Porsche.)

During the 2010 World Series, Goodby launched a campaign tagged “Chevy Runs Deep,” and the agency subsequently opened its first office outside of San Francisco in downtown Detroit, near GM. By July 2012, Ewanick was out of GM, after a series of controversial decisions, including a sponsorship deal with U.K. football team Manchester United. Alan Batey, GM’s North America vp, sales and service, stepped in as interim CMO.

In December, Batey began to make changes. Chevy’s Silverado brand was moved out of Commonwealth and into Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett. A month later the company said Goodby’s “Chevy Runs Deep” tag was being dropped for “Find New Roads.”