GM Shifts $750 Million European Media Business to Aegis

Interpublic Loses Another Piece of Automaker's Media Business

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LONDON (AdAge.com) -- General Motors Corp. is moving its $750 million pan-European media business out of Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies and into Aegis Media.
Follows U.S.consolidation
The account shift, which includes the Vauxhall, Opel, Chevrolet and Saab marques, is another blow for Interpublic from GM; in May 2005 the automaker moved its $3.5 billion U.S. media-buying account out of Interpublic's GM Mediaworks and into Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, Chicago. That move consolidated GM's U.S. media services with Starcom, whose GM Planworks unit since 2000 was handling the automaker's U.S. media planning.

Confirming the win, Aegis said that the company will set up a separate unit to handle the new GM business in Europe.

GM has long been Interpublic's largest client, accounting for $487 million or 8.3% of Interpublic's 2003 worldwide revenue.

In Europe, Universal McCann worked on all of GM's media business apart from the $110 million U.K. Vauxhall (known as Opel elsewhere in Europe) and the $26 million U.K. Saab accounts. Both these accounts are held by Interpublic sibling Initiative, and will also move into Aegis Media. The biggest unit of Aegis Media, the media operations holding company for Aegis Group, is Carat. Aegis Media also includes Vizeum, a second communications planning and buying network; Posterscope Worldwide; and Isobar digital marketing.

Contractual disagreements
Executives close to GM said a rift had occurred over contractual disagreements, and that the news of a split with Universal McCann in Europe was no surprise after last year's U.S. move to Starcom MediaVest.

Aegis pitched for the GM business two years ago, but GM decided to stick with Universal at that time. However, Aegis and GM are believed to have kept in touch, and talks between the two became more serious over the summer.

Universal McCann and Aegis Media declined to comment on the situation and referred all calls to GM. GM did not immediately return calls.

Aegis Group recently announced the first half of 2006 was its best-ever for new business. This week the media specialist group also won the Ernst & Young account in the U.S.
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