GM weighs move of media planning to single agency

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General Motors Corp. is considering consolidation of its national media planning, currently handled by various national ad agencies.

A decision hasn't been finalized, according to executives close to the auto marketer. They said it's not a given that Interpublic Group of Cos.' GM Mediaworks--the Warren, Mich., shop that handles GM's consolidated media buying--would get the planning account. They also said the Troy, Mich., office of B Com3 Group's MediaVest is a contender.

Patrick Sherwood, president of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles' Troy office, declined comment. The shop handles creative and media planning for GM's Cadillac and Pontiac accounts.

Terry Sullivan, director of sales and marketing communications at GM, indicated the marketer is considering alternatives to the current media-planning system. "In the advertising communications world, we are actively looking at ways to do things differently," he said. "There are a lot of ideas that bubble up, but a lot has to happen before it sees the light of day."


Auto expert David Cole, director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation at the University of Michigan, said GM has looked for and found billions of dollars in savings from its suppliers over the past several years. He said it would not be unusual for GM to be looking at other areas to save money and eliminate redundancy.

GM had discussed consolidating media planning several times in recent years, the executives said. But the brand management reorganization in 1995 and regional restructuring in January 1999 put the matter on the back burner.

The auto marketer is one of the nation's biggest ad spenders. GM spent $2.8 billion in measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.


Separately, GM's Oldsmobile Division has lost five marketing staffers

Karen Francis, 37, general marketing manager at Oldsmobile, will join Internet Capital Group's San Francisco office in the new post of chief marketing officer and managing director. Ms. Francis will oversee corporate marketing for the holding company plus head up marketing services for the more than 60 e-commerce firms in which it holds a stake.

Mike Sands, 33, who joined Oldsmobile as ad director in 1997 from Ameritech Corp., has joined Leo Group's Giant Step interactive unit, Chicago, in the new post of VP-media and partnerships.

Candace Robbins, brand manager of the Bravada SUV, recently moved to director of co-op advertising and entertainment relationships, overseeing GM's big corporate sponsorships like the U.S. Olympics.

Jim Vurpillat moves from assistant brand manager-marketing on Aurora to succeed Ms. Robbins. Bob Clark, a GM veteran and brand manager of Alero, has moved onto a special corporate project on quality across all vehicle brands in North America.

Peter Langenhorst moved from brand manager of the Silhouette minivan to the same post on Chevrolet's Venture minivan.

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