GM Moves Its Corporate Account to Deutsch

Business Was at IPG Sibling McCann Erickson

By Published on .

DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- General Motors Corp. plans to announceannounce tomorrow that it will move a major chunk of its corporate-ad account from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, Birmingham, Mich., to sibling Deutsch, Los Angeles.
Mark LaNeve, GM's VP-vehicle sales, service and marketing in North America
Mark LaNeve, GM's VP-vehicle sales, service and marketing in North America

The move will be another major coup for Deutsch, which got its foot in the door at the automaker last fall, when the agency started negotiations for Chevrolet's 2006 Major League Baseball and motor-sports marketing efforts. That business had been handled by Interpublic sibling Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., which remains agency of record for Chevrolet, GM's biggest-selling vehicle. Deutsch recently completed work on the automaker's "Elevate" campaign.

Not ready to discuss
GM's Mark LaNeve, VP-vehicle sales, service and marketing in North America, told Advertising Age he wasn't ready to discuss the matter. He maintained GM doesn't exactly have a "corporate account," but that its so-called reputational ads encompass everything from its OnStar service to Deutsch's "Elevate" ads that broke earlier this month for the automaker's new expanded warranty on all its 2007 models.

"We are looking at bringing in additional talent in that [reputational] area," he told Advertising Age. McCann, he said, will continue to handle national "retail stuff."

Executives from McCann declined comment; executives from Deutsch, Los Angeles did not return calls by press time.

Spending jump
McCann won GM's corporate account in fall 2000 without a review from the now-defunct N.W. Ayer & Partners, Troy, Mich. TNS Media Intelligence shows GM's corporate ad spending in measured media jumped significantly this decade, from $10 million in 2000 to $67 million in 2001 -- the year the auto giant started a massive, multivehicle-brand incentive campaign, led by a "Keep America Rolling" effort following the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

GM continued to ratchet up corporate ad spending, mainly for multibrand incentive ads done by McCann, to a high of $551 million in calendar 2005, TNS data shows.

In announcing a "permanent repricing strategy" at GM earlier this year, Mr. LaNeve said GM would do "a lot less" broad, umbrella, multibrand incentives such as the employee discounts that ran in the summer of 2005. "If you spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising incentives, it's money not spent elsewhere," he said then. "I'd be foolish to say we haven't gotten a reputation for GM brands being on sale all the time."

Interpublic has to be happy that the account remained within the holding company. Earlier today the automaker shifted its $750 million pan-European media business from Interpublic's Universal McCann and Intitiative into Aegis Media.
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