KOZIARA TAKES OVER GMC AD POST IN DIVISION SHIFT: DEALERS CONCERNED ABOUT DIMINISHED REGIONAL POWER

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In what dealers and auto consultants are calling a further sign of centralization of advertising, General Motors Corp.'s North American Operations has shifted Dave Koziara to advertising manager of GMC trucks under Bob Kraut, divisional ad manager of Pontiac-GMC.

At the same time, Pontiac-GMC cut commissions to select regional shops to a uniform 11% from Pontiac's 12.5% and GMC's 12%.

Mr. Koziara, who had been a strategic marketing manager in VP Phil Guarascio's NAO marketing and advertising department, succeeds Rod Atkins, now assistant merchandising manager at GMC.

Pontiac-GMC dealers have said they are unhappy with the quality of GMC's advertising. But Mr. Kraut denied dealer unrest had anything to do with the change, adding that GMC brand awareness and consideration have risen since GM's "one-voice advertising" under brand management started.

Mr. Guarascio also denied the staff move signaled NAO was trying to head off any alleged ad woes at GMC.

`RIGHT BLEND OF EXPERIENCE'

NAO tries to give its staff the "right blend of experience throughout the organization," Mr. Guarascio said. "Dave Koziara was very much involved in developing brand management at NAO in an advertising capacity."

But Pontiac-GMC dealers complain that GM's one-voice advertising has usurped the control they had to push products in their regions.

Moreover, they insist the division's seven select regional agencies increasingly are using national ads from the division's two national agencies-the Troy, Mich., offices of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

Dealers and auto consultants described the situation as another manifestation of GM's centralization as it formulates uniform practices under Ronald Zarrella, VP-group executive of sales, service and marketing at GM's North American Operations.

The division's regional dealer groups muster their ad budgets by collecting 1% of the invoice price of each vehicle sold.

Before brand management started in 1995, the groups could decide which vehicles to advertise via their area shops. But in the 1996 model year, regional shops produced more than 100 different ads for the Pontiac Grand Am.

Brand managers have the authority to decide regional strategy and whether to strongly push vehicles in certain markets.

Mr. Kraut denied brand managers are mandating regional advertising to the dealer groups.

But dealers disagree.

`ALL FROM THE TOP DOWN'

"Regional groups don't have a say anymore; it's all from the top down," said one dealer.

Brand managers decide regional strategies, but if dealer groups don't want to follow those plans, they don't have to. But they won't get the division's matching ad funds.

No dealer group has refused to accept the matching funds, Mr Kraut added.

Pontiac-GMC, following Chevrolet's lead, just consolidated its 330 dealer regions to 14 with seven select shops.

The regions' ad agency reviews were wrapped up a few weeks ago.

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