GM STUMBLE RESULTED IN SHORTAGE OF LOCAL TV ADS

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Many General Motors Corp. dealers noticed a disturbing trend this past spring: Local TV spots for GM vehicles were scaled back.

Now GM has acknowledged it miscalculated.

The automaker said it was late in buying TV time in many metro markets and did not buy as much time as it wanted to. Many slots were unavailable or too expensive by the time GM was ready to buy.

GM didn't say whether regional TV spending actually declined during the spring; the carmaker said it boosted newspaper and cable TV spending in the period.

Last month, GM cranked up a national summer sales TV campaign for each division, which the five regions can enhance and promote further (AA, July 19).

'GOING TO TAKE SOME TIME'

"We did not take over [regional media buying] from an executional standpoint until April 1, and it's going to take some time," said Phil Guarascio, general manager and group VP-corporate marketing and advertising for GM in North America.

On Jan. 1, GM consolidated its division sales, service and marketing staffs into one organization. Five sales regions were established, which took over advertising from the defunct dealer associations.

GM started buying 1999 regional TV ad time last fall, but didn't buy enough, Mr. Guarascio said.

While GM didn't spend as much on regional TV as it wanted to, he said, overall spending on regional ads has increased by "double digits" this year, and regional cable spending increased fivefold.

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