GM Europe shops for Astra ideas

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ZURICH -- General Motors Europe, based in Zurich, has rejected proposals for the multi-million dollar pan-European launch of its new Astra model from its two roster agencies for Europe, the Lowe Group and McCann-Erickson Europe. The U.S. motor manufacturer is now talking to "other creative teams."

The new car, set to debut next April in the major markets of Germany and the U.K. before rolling out to the rest of the continent, is a major launch and will face stiff competition from Volkswagen AG's new generation Golf that goes on sale in Europe next month.

An executive close to the Astra pitch process says: "For a product of this magnitude, the company wants to look at creative suggestions made by more agencies. It's so important to them."

VW's new Golf, priced low at $14,250 and including more features than its predecessor, sets a high benchmark which the new Astra will have to challenge.

Ken Levy, executive director, international operations and media relations at GM Europe, says of the agency selection for the Astra launch: "It is...responsible management to provide the best communication activities for the successful presentation of one of the best automobiles on the market. Therefore, it is a matter of course that we - just as other companies do - use the most competent resources available toward that end.

"In addition to our traditional agencies, with whom we have had a long-term partnership, that includes other top-notch creative teams from all over the world."

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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