GM Moves Digital Duties to MRM From Digitas' Prodigious Unit

McCann Unit Will Hire 200 People to Staff Five-Year Deal Worth $100 Million

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- General Motors is moving its U.S. digital production duties to MRM Worldwide's MRM Supply from the Digitas-owned production shop Prodigious Worldwide, as part of a cost-savings effort by the carmaker. The five-year deal is worth $100 million in billings, according to executives familiar with the matter.

Credit: AP
MRM, a unit of McCann Worldgroup and part of Interpublic Group of Cos., is planning to hire 200 people between Detroit and a low-cost production facility in Argentina to staff the automaker's business. MRM Supply, which handles production projects for brands including Intel and Microsoft, has hubs in Buenos Aires, Bangkok and Tel Aviv.

In late 2008, MRM won an assignment to build global website platforms for the carmaker's brands. MRM built website templates and content-management architecture that could be tailored to specific markets by local creative teams as a way to boost efficiencies globally.

Through MRM Supply, MRM will execute 50 new websites for GM brands in Europe, South Africa and the Middle East during the next six months as part of the platform assignment, and will continue in North America and other markets into 2010.

The new assignment, for U.S. digital production, was awarded in the last 30 days, said MRM CEO Reuben Hendell.

A GM spokeswoman confirmed that the automaker moved the U.S. digital production account in early spring to MRM. She said MRM had the account in other parts of the world so it was a consolidation and a way to boost efficiency by working with one shop. "Digitas still has a ton of work for us," she said.

GM remains a top-five client for Digitas, which has retained full creative duties for Buick, GMC, OnStar, service and parts, fleet and commercial, and GM.com, as well as a CRM data-management relationship, though MRM is now tasked with executing those ideas for websites, display ads and e-mail templates in the U.S. MRM has served as the digital creative lead on car brand Opel in Europe, as well as in some markets in Asia and Latin America.

"We have two types of relationships with GM," Mr. Hendell said. "We have creative relationships through MRM Worldwide, and another important skill set in today's digital world is to be able to deliver scale. And that's why we created MRM Supply. This validates our approach that for multibrand marketers, there's a huge amount of efficiencies to be achieved."

Digitas, part of Publicis Groupe, launched Prodigious Worldwide in 2007 as a digital creative production resource for all the holding company's agencies with GM as its anchor client. The GM loss affects Prodigious' profits-and-loss statement, not that of Digitas, according to an agency spokeswoman. For its part, Digitas said it knew since late 2008 it was losing this piece of the business; its contract expires at the end of the year.

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Jean Halliday contributed to this report.

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