GM to Feature New Chairman in Spots Pitching Carmaker to Public

Effort Appears to Veer Slightly From Ad Chief Lutz's Initial Marketing Plan

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- General Motors Co. will launch a broad post-bankruptcy advertising campaign next week with an introductory TV spot featuring new Chairman Ed Whitacre, Automotive News reports today.

The ad is expected to last 60 seconds and was created by McCann Erickson Worldwide, Birmingham, Mich., part of Interpublic Group of Cos. The spot will set up a wider corporate TV campaign featuring commercials about each of GM's four surviving brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. 

GM Chairman Ed Whitacre
GM Chairman Ed Whitacre

The idea is to showcase GM's best products, with Mr. Whitacre urging consumers to take a look at what the automaker has to offer. 

The ads may reflect a slight departure from Bob Lutz's plan for GM's marketing strategy. When Mr. Lutz, 77, took over as marketing chief in July, he said GM would focus on its brands, and not the corporation. 

Mr. Whitacre, 67, the former CEO of AT&T Corp., came to GM with no auto-industry experience. He was installed as chairman during the automaker's U.S.-orchestrated bankruptcy in June to safeguard the government's investment in GM. 

The company's research showed that consumers now want to know that the new GM is a different company from the one in bankruptcy, Auto News said, citing two sources. Mr. Whitacre is enough of an outsider to be viewed as representing the taxpayer, one of them said. 

GM spokesman Chris Preuss declined to comment on the campaign or Mr. Whitacre's involvement. 

After the Whitacre spot, GM will air ads featuring each division. The Chevy campaign, for instance, is said to include former pro football player and announcer Howie Long, who will tout Chevrolet's fuel leadership over competitors' vehicles in certain segments.

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