GM sets site for media

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Bcom3 Group's new GM Planworks will make good on its promise to eliminate mountains of paperwork in planning media for dedicated client General Motors Corp.

The new agency will use a proprietary Web site (www.gmmissioncontrol.com) with three portals providing planning, implementation schedules and research, said Dennis Donlin, president of Planworks. The research area will provide sales reports by brand and market, brand awareness and buyer consideration findings, plus syndicated industry studies.

Bcom3's Starcom MediaVest Group, which won the $2.8 billion consolidated media-planning account in July, opened the agency Dec. 4.

ROAD TO EFFICIENCY

Those with access to the site include GM ad directors, brand managers, the automaker's ad agencies and dealers. They'll be able to determine, for example, whether ads for both the Cadillac Escalade sport utility and Chevrolet's Tahoe SUV are running in the same market at the same time. Before this new system, explained Mr. Donlin, "it used to take a couple of days to get flow charts."

Before Planworks, the 17 ad agencies that handled GM's media planning used a variety of different custom software programs that did only part of what the new agency's software can do, Mr. Donlin stated.

Chevrolet Division's agency, Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., used Adware-software originally developed by McCann-Erickson Worldwide that provided media accounting, trafficking and past-buy data. Pontiac and Cadillac's planning agency, MediaVest, used different software called NetPak.

Starcom MediaVest has used parts of the new custom software, but hasn't yet used the second-generation package.

"We invested a tremendous amount into this custom programming," said Mr. Donlin, without citing the cost. The system is intended to help GM achieve its goal of 30% improvement in media effectiveness.

SMOOTH TRANSITION

Michael Browner, exec director of media and marketing operations at GM, said Planworks' so-called Insights research team will have a research budget that is four times the combined budget spent on GM research by the 17 incumbent agencies. He wouldn't discuss specifics but said GM is footing the bill.

He insisted GM hasn't missed a beat in media planning with the transition because Planworks' top management has been reviewing coming business for at least two months. The auto marketer's January 2001 titles have already been placed. Mr. Browner admitted "we are no where near locking in our 2001 media plans."

He quashed industry speculation that GM planned to consolidate Bcom3's media planning with media buying, which is done by Interpublic Group of Cos.' GM Mediaworks, Warren, Mich. GM consolidated buying at GM Mediaworks in 1994. "We have no plans to put our buying up for review. Anyone who tells you that is wrong," said Mr. Browner.

He also dispelled speculation that Interpublic's Mediaworks and Bcom3's Planworks would squabble. "We have the commitment from the top management of IPG and Bcom3 to make this work."

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