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General Motors Corp.'s national agencies are gearing up to assume new regional ad duties.

Four agencies have already started hiring regional account teams to mirror GM's staff in five regions under a reorganization that started in January. Agency shifts are effective April. 1. The agencies are: Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich. (Chevrolet); D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich., (Cadillac and Pontiac); Leo Burnett USA, Chicago (Oldsmobile); and McCann-Erickson, Troy, (Buick). The fifth agency involved, Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, which handles GMC, didn't return calls by press time.

"Everyone was saying the magic date is April 1, but it was really Jan. 1," said Gunnar Wilmot, exec VP of McCann's Troy office. He said he has already hired four account people and named six staffers on the accounts in the Troy office. Eventually, each of McCann's five regional offices will have an account executive and account director.

DMB&B, which already handles some regional dealer Cadillac work, has hired 11 new account staffers, including 10 who will work side-by-side in GM's five regional offices. The eleventh will be a regional account director for Cadillac based in the agency's Troy headquarters.

Burnett has hired six new people, but said it expects to add a total of 30. Only 10 or 12 will be in the regions; the rest will work in Chicago.


Several of GM's national agencies said they are already doing work on regional accounts, mostly strategic planning and newspaper ads. In some cases, agency staffers are working at GM's regional offices.

Creative, media planning and research are done at the main agency office that handles the national vehicle brand accounts. The four agencies said they haven't determined if they'll also need to hire new media planning and creative staffers in the regions. Two agencies said additional hiring in those specialties will depend on how the accounts play out financially.

While the national agencies are hiring, several of the 60 shops that had handled the $500 million creative and media dealer group accounts are letting staffers go. Strong Automotive, Birmingham, Ala., laid off nearly 30 people, about one-third of its staff.

Strong CEO Billy Harvill said the whole situation is "distasteful" because the national agencies are hiring staff from GM's regional agencies, which demonstrates the smaller shops were doing good work.


GM will disband its regional dealer ad groups April 1. Each of GM's vehicle lines had its own regional dealer group. Chevrolet, for example, had 22 area marketing groups, each acting as a single client with its own ad funds and agency. The ad pools were generated via a minimum of 1% of each vehicle's invoiced price.

A group of Illinois dealers sued GM in January, claiming the money generated by that 1% of invoice is theirs.

Under GM's reorganization, five new regional marketing directors decide which vehicles to advertise and in which cities. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Local

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