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General motors corp. breaks a corporate ad campaign June 2 to tout it has improved its quality with a "road to redemption" theme, confirming an Advertising Age report May 5. The target is the roughly 40% of consumers who don't consider purchasing a GM brand. The first ad in the series presents how GM is working to regain the world-class quality it had 30 years ago, but let slip 20 years ago. John Middlebrook, GM's VP-general manager of advertising, corporate marketing and vehicle marketing, said 5% of the ad is "mea culpa" and 95% of the ad discusses "what's going on that's good at GM." The first ad by Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, Troy, Mich., will run in national and regional magazines and newspapers through July. Mr. Middlebrook said GM is studying whether to add TV commercials to what he described as the long-term campaign. He declined to reveal spending, but said GM's corporate ad budget "is probably up a little bit" from 2002. GM spent $198 million in measured media on corporate advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. QwikFIND aao72m

Visa storms the Big Apple

Visa USA plans to take on New York in early June. On June 8, Visa sponsors the broadcast of Broadway's Tony Awards and will unveil a sponsorship of the national tour of the Broadway show "Moving Out" June 5. And the final leg of the Visa Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, will be run June 7. As part of the Triple Crown sponsorship, Visa may also pay out a $5 million award if contender Funny Cide wins after victories in the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby. Visa's agency, Omnicom Group's BBDO, New York plans to air a congratulatory spot if the horse wins. Visa also breaks June 2 an ad featuring Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter and team owner George Steinbrenner. The spot, also from BBDO, makes light of Mr. Steinbrenner's recent criticism of Mr. Jeter's work ethic, with the player taking his boss club hopping. See the Jeter spot: QwikFIND aao69v

Christopher Reeve directs ad series

SFGT, an independent ad agency in Philadelphia, has tapped actor Christopher Reeve to direct a new series of public service spots to promote the opening of the National Constitution Center, a museum which opens in Philadelphia on July 4. The campaign, to run nationally from June 2, features celebrities such as Maya Angelou, Diane Sawyer and Russell Simmons. Each spot begins with the tagline "I am able ..." and focuses on the freedoms of the U.S. constitution.

McCann-Erickson VP Gault, 45, dies

Mark Gault, exec VP-regional director for North America at Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, died May 24 at his summer home in Woodbury, Conn. The cause of death was a heart attack, a spokesman said. A native of the U.K., Mr. Gault, 45, spent the bulk of his career at McCann-Erickson after studying at Cambridge. In 1996, he moved to Tokyo and became managing director; two years later, he was named chairman of the agency and area director of the Asia/Pacific region. In 1999, he became director of worldwide accounts at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, overseeing roughly 20 accounts. Most recently, Mr. Gault moved to New York, where he oversaw the operations of McCann's North American network. He is survived by a wife and two children.

Potential conflicts force Jergens review

Citing potential future conflicts, Kao Corp.'s Andrew Jergens Co. launched a review of its personal and hair-care brands account. Jergens, which now has all of its brands at Interpublic, hired AAR Partners, New York, to conduct the review, which will explore moving the core Lowe team to another Interpublic agency, said Brad Kirk, VP-marketing, Jergens. But he added: "Due diligence demands that we take a look at all available options." Mr. Kirk would not comment on the nature of the potential conflicts. Lowe also handles Johnson & Johnson baby products, which include baby shampoo. Kao last year bought the John Frieda Professional business and consolidated its advertising with Interpublic's Bozell, which later merged with Lowe. Kao also sells baby products in Asia and the Biore, Ban and Curel brands in the U.S. "We're very satisfied with the long-standing relationship we've had with Bozell and the newly merged Lowe," Mr. Kirk said. Jergens parted ways with Interpublic's Deutsch, New York, in 1999 when the agency took on Procter & Gamble Co.'s QwikFIND aao72i

Kmart launches team spirit ads

Kmart Corp., in its first TV efforts since coming back out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, last week broke a spot from agency Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day Worldwide, New York, that shows Kmart employees in a team spirit session, suggestive of the fabled meetings rival Wal-Mart has at its stores. The ads promote a Great Summer Vacation Sale, a joint effort between the retailer and Pepsi, Coke, Shell, Coleman, and Universal Studios, which includes sale prices on summer merchandise with five weeks of sweepstakes through July 5. A second spot, from sibling shop Arnell Group, features Martha Stewart touting a sale on her product line.


Sean B. Cunningham, exec VP-managing director, Interpublic's Universal McCann, New York, was named president-CEO of the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau. Mr. Cunningham, 42, replaces Joe Ostrow, who is retiring. QwikFIND aao72t ... Ad groups are seeking meetings with Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., after the former House minority leader said on the Iowa campaign trail that direct-to-consumer prescription drug ads be banned. ... Tyco International selected Omnicom's Interbrand to work on brand architecture, that will improve efficiency among units such as electronics, security and health care. Interpublic's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, was selected for an internal communications program. The two accounts will amount to less than $1 million in billings for the rest of the year. QwikFIND aao72l

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