Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The story below appeared at AdAge.com—and it’s immediately followed by brief MultiCultClassics commentary…
Five GM Brands to Shift Multicultural Work to General-Market Shops
Meanwhile, Chevy Opens Review for African-American Account
By Jean Halliday
DETROIT -- Six of General Motors Corp.’s eight vehicle brands are shifting strategies for handling multicultural advertising.
Chevrolet turned to its general-market shop Campbell-Ewald for the Malibu’s African-American work.
In what a spokeswoman called a new approach to diversity marketing, five brands -- Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Hummer and Pontiac -- will move responsibility for African-American advertising to their general-market agencies effective Jan. 1.
The sixth, Chevrolet, the automaker’s biggest brand by sales volume, is conducting a review for its African-American account and expects to have a decision by the end of the year, the GM spokeswoman said.
GM’s other two brands, Saturn and Saab, did not have multicultural agencies of record.
Chevrolet’s African-American incumbent, Carol H. Williams Advertising, Oakland, Calif., is defending. In addition to that shop, Chevrolet had used Translation, New York, mostly for consulting and relationship building, and its general-market shop, Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., which did the brand’s current African-American launch work for the 2008 Malibu, the spokeswoman said.
But the Williams agency is losing Cadillac, Hummer and GMC, which it won in a 2002 review when GM consolidated its African-American accounts. At the time, estimated billings were $20 million to $30 million with revenue estimated at $3 million. (The GM spokeswoman declined to reveal spending on any of the accounts.)
Buick’s and Pontiac counted Vigilante, New York, partly owned by Publicis Groupe, as their African-American agency of record; with the shift, that work will now be handled by Leo Burnett, Chicago.
Cadillac and Hummer’s main agency, independent Modernista, Boston, will assume that African-American account, while GMC’s general agency, Publicis’ Leo Burnett, Chicago, will now handle the African-American business.
Changes on Hispanic front
There will also be changes on the Hispanic front. Burnett will take over the Buick-Pontiac-GMC division’s Hispanic work next year. Accentmarketing, Miami, has the Pontiac and GMC accounts, and Buick had no Hispanic agency.
Accentmarketing, in which Interpublic holds a stake, won GM’s consolidated Hispanic accounts in 2001. The agency will keep Hispanic accounts for Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hummer and GM corporate.
Neither Saturn nor Saab had any multicultural agencies of records, with the general-market shops handling. Interpublic’s Deutsch, Los Angeles, handles Saturn, while sibling McCann, Birmingham, Mich., will assume Saab’s account Jan. 1 from sibling Lowe, New York, in a previously announced shift.
GM spent a total of $66 million in Hispanic measured media across its vehicle brands last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Chevrolet got the most, $43 million, TNS said.
GM would not discuss the logic beyond the shifts, but said it was not done as a cost-cutting move.
Looks like GM is going totally GM. For the slow drivers out there, it means General Motors is going totally General Market.
This could mean lots of lost endorsement loot for the automaker’s hip-hop spokespersons.
It’s only a matter of time before GM yanks billings from other multicultural firms. After all, this is the advertiser that produced a 2006 commercial for Chevy trucks starring John Mellencamp singing, “This Is Our Country”—even though the 60-second spot depicted zero Latinos, Asians or Native Americans.
The most outrageous part of this scenario involves the reassignment of Black-targeted projects to White agencies. To be clear, it’s not outrageous because the White agencies are woefully unqualified to handle the work; rather, it’s crazy to reward the shops whose efforts have completely failed to turn things around for GM. The automaker is essentially saying, “Your campaigns have flushed our brands down the toilet, so let us give you more stuff to screw up.”
As Don King would proclaim, “Only in America.”
GM is proud to employ Blacks—but not Black advertising agencies.