Focused Advertising Crucial for GM
By Kevin Kelly
WardsAuto.com, May 24 2005
GM wants advertising to better respond to the changing media climate.
MILFORD, MI – General Motors Corp. puts its advertising agencies on notice to develop better-focused advertising for its divisions.
The auto maker recently awarded its media-buying portfolio to GM Planworks, part of Starcom MediaVest Group, creating a more streamlined operation to better respond to the changing media climate, the auto maker says.
Now, GM is turning its attention to the other crucial piece of its marketing operations: advertising.
Brent Dewar, GM North America vice president-marketing and advertising.
“What I have said to all of our (agency) partners is it's a new game, and you have to be aligned to our success going forward,” Brent Dewar, GM North America vice president-marketing and advertising, tells journalists during a media program at GM's Proving Grounds here. “We're very clear and very specific. We've met with each one of (the agencies) and told them there's a new sheriff in town; a new game. We're looking for a lot more effectiveness and a better message.”
Dewar was promoted to his current post in March after GM reshuffled its senior marketing management ranks. (See related story: GM Management Changes Focus on Growth)
Mark LaNeve, GM North America vice president-vehicle sales, service and marketing, says GM essentially has laid down the law, telling advertising agency executives their goal is to help GM divisions boost sales.
“We told the agencies we feel that we are all on 1-year contracts,” he says. “We've got to perform, and we've got big issues and it takes real serious people to solve them right now.”
Dewar says GM seeks to transform its advertising philosophy from utilizing traditional media to adopting new technologies and channels. He says advertising for some GM brands will move “from broadcast to download. From mass to personalized.”
GM traditionally has approached divisional advertising in a similar fashion, whether the audience was younger, more technology savvy buyers or senior adults. Every division utilized a portion of television, radio and print advertising.
“That's gone,” Dewar says. “We're changing the game out. The media positioning of each of the divisions won't be the same.”
LaNeve says Pontiac, for example, may rely on fewer TV advertisements, while boosting its ad presence on the Internet and other electronic media.
Likewise, the message for each of the brands will be different. While Chevrolet likely will continue to tout its American heritage, LaNeve says Buick may focus more on the quality of its products.
GMNA's marketing boss says the auto maker is now the “underdog” and will have to fight its way back to improve both volume and market share.
“None of us – Brent, myself, or the general mangers and the top field people in the company – were around when GM dominated the market,” LaNeve says. “We've been struggling and fighting since the day we walked into the joint.”