Bcom3 staffs up dedicated GM planning unit

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Bcom3 Group's newly created General Motors Planworks is set to open its doors Dec. 1 in a downtown Detroit office building blocks from its only client, GM. The dedicated media planning agency won the $2.8 billion consolidated GM account in July.

Dennis Donlin, president of Planworks, said he's hired people for 18 of the 21 management positions.

The organizational structure includes four or five managing directors. Below them will be media directors overseeing each of GM's vehicle divisional brands. Saturn Corp., initially not included in the combined new account, will be added shortly.

KEY POSTS

To fill the slots, Mr. Donlin has hired several key media people from GM's ad agencies. Nancy Walters, exec VP-director of strategic communications and the highest-ranking media executive at Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., will be managing director on Chevrolet, GM's largest vehicle division. Two other senior media people from the Chevrolet agency, Karen Campbell and Gail Bindi, will be directors on Chevrolet. Ms. Campbell will oversee truck planning; Ms. Bindi will handle planning for cars.

Joanne Sunde, a former top executive at Bcom3's MediaVest office in Troy, Mich., on the Cadillac and Pontiac accounts, becomes managing director on Pontiac and GMC.

Karen Schneider, media director at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, will join Planworks as media director on Buick. Another managing director yet to be hired will come from a U.S. office of Starcom MediaVest Group, and another will come from outside GM's current agency roster and Bcom3.

Mr. Donlin said it hasn't been decided whether planning for GM's Buick and Cadillac brands would be grouped under one managing director. Oldsmobile may instead be put in with GM corporate. "We're looking at some different combinations."

A SINGLE, WEB-BASED SYSTEM

Planworks has worked closely with Interpublic Group of Cos.' General Motors Mediaworks, Warren, to develop a single Web-based system that will cross all the agencies, he said. Both shops collaborated to develop the new system, which will eliminate the need to re-enter data between the stages of planning and buying.

Seventeen agencies currently plan GM's media; the largest are those handling the vehicle brands. GM will compensate all 17 until Nov. 30. Planworks takes over strategic control of planning Dec. 1. Mr. Donlin said although Mediaworks has already purchased GM's inventory, it doesn't get allocated until late in the quarter before it runs.

Planworks will take executional control of planning Jan. 1.

Mr. Donlin said he's about to make offers to hire 75% of the roughly 100 staffer jobs for strategic planning and operations, the staffers who will build a paperless system. He had already interviewed "virtually everyone" currently working on GM at the various agencies as well as an undisclosed number of people from Starcom MediaVest's New York and Chicago offices.

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