Could GM's Reviews Save Tens of Millions of Dollars? 'More Than That,' Says Ewanick

Chevy Creative Pitch Expected to Conclude in December

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General Motors is counting on saving a ton of money from aggressive moves to trim the number of ad agencies it works with globally.

The carmaker is conducting two giant agency reviews at the moment, one that examines its $3 billion media-buying and -planning budget and another that seeks creative ideas for its Chevrolet business around the globe.

Automotive News spoke to GM's global CMO at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week, and when asked whether the combined reviews could save the automaker tens of millions of dollars, Mr. Ewanick replied: "More than that . It's real money." In other words, it's possible that by reducing the number of marketing partners it works with, GM could realize efficiencies in the nine-digits.

He underscored that the company is ready to slash the number of agencies it works with, noting that the media review includes more than 40 agencies worldwide, and more than 50 work on Chevrolet worldwide. Mr. Ewanick wants to get that number down to just "a handful." Altogether there are more than 2,000 people working on Chevy accounts at creative ad agencies globally, and "that 's a lot," Mr. Ewanick said.

The overhaul of GM's ad-agency portfolio is part of a broader effort spearheaded by CEO Dan Akerson to cut costs companywide. For example, GM is consolidating the number of vehicle and engine platforms it uses to trim engineering and manufacturing costs. "It's a team effort across the board to uncover these types of ideas" for cutting costs, Mr. Ewanick said.

One strategy moving forward will be to stitch together ad campaigns from various countries around the globe rather than running tailored messages to market vehicles in each market.

Mr. Ewanick noted that GM has been watching how other large marketers work with agencies, both inside and outside the auto industry, noting that some have pared their agency count moderately, only to return for more consolidation. "We're going to go to what is probably the next evolution in how these kinds of agency formulas and business models will work for a global brand like ours."

Rich Kranz and Mike Colias are writers for Automotive News

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