Ad agency Modernista relies on out-of-the-box thinking

When Oakenfold's 2008 World Tour began, the DJ didn't just cart around a lot of high-tech equipment. He also brought along kaleidoscope-like images of colorful landscapes and cosmic people that blend with the music — images created by Modernista.

Modernista is widely known for linking music from often-obscure artists with compelling visuals in its TV spots. That attracted Oakenfold's attention.

Here are some things they've done for key advertisers:

Hummer

Hummer sales are plummeting — down nearly 60% this year — but nobody's blaming the ad agency.

To the contrary, Modernista's ads arguably made Hummer the envy-mobile back in 2000. It may be best known for a 2006 Super Bowl ad for Hummer with two monsters — a towering robot and a Godzilla-like creature — that happily spawn a red Hummer.

"Lance and Gary have a passion for the car business," says Liz Vanzura, who oversaw marketing at Hummer and then Cadillac, where she hired them.

"What makes Modernista different is that they focus on understanding the real business issues."

The agency founders are realists about potentially losing the Hummer business after GM finally unloads its fast-sinking division that's now openly on the block.

"If it goes away," Jensen says, "we'll have to make a new baby."

Cadillac

All Modernista did for Cadillac was resurrect its image, make its redesigned CTS rollout a hit and get consumers buzzing about the brand.

After the work Modernista had done for Hummer, it's no surprise that Cadillac approached Modernista when Vanzura was named its marketing chief.

Good decision: The new CTS had double-digit sales growth for the first eight months after the launch. "Dealers started to see import-oriented buyers shopping in the Cadillac showroom," says Vanzura, who recently left GM.

Modernista opted to celebrate the word Cadillac. And, of course, it got Walsh to coo for Caddie.

Walsh has a new line in upcoming ads, but Modernista execs won't say boo about it, yet.

Odds are, it'll be a hottie.

Asked what Walsh has done for Cadillac, Jensen — before singing her praises — ponders a moment then turns the question around: "Isn't the real question: What has Cadillac done for Kate Walsh?"

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