GM Asks The $3 Billion Question

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

GM spent $4.26 billion for advertising last year, globally. 67 percent, or $2.85 billion were spent in the U.S. A good chunk of this budget, around $3 billion, are up for review. Meaning: The agencies that handle it must come up with concepts and defend theirs against concepts of other agencies that want to handle the funds. Please note that this has nothing to do with creative ideas, or not in the true sense of it. We are talking media buying here, buying time on network, space in magazines, clicks on Google. It should be as interesting as deciding whether your accounting work will be done by Peat Marwick or by KPMG. (Loud howls of protest from the media agencies, who are as proud of the cleverness of their media plans as the CPA firms are pleased with their creative accounting.)

The adworld is abuzz about the move, $3 billion possibly changing to new handlers can shake up carefully cultivated relationships. The question everybody is asking: “Why?”

The answer most people are giving: “Money.”

After all, what else can a media buying agency bring to the table than a few more gross rating points for a few dollars less? It could also be that GM simply wants to reduce its ad spend, something that can be obscured while changing media agencies.

Former Chrysler marketing executive Julie Roehm, now a consultant, has different other suspicions. She is quoted by Automotive News [sub] as saying: “I don’t think it’s about cost cutting. It’s smoke and mirrors to hide bigger problems.”

She points towards Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, an agency that was brought in by Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick withouth a review. That agency has come under criticism for turning in unremarkable work, their “Chevy runs deep” slogan fails to resonate. Their godfather Ewanick recently tried to deflect criticism by giving Goodby Silverstein “B and C work” grades. That only lasts so long. Nothing however focuses the attention of upper management as much away as the decision of who will spend their $ 3 billion in the future.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Type57SC Type57SC on Aug 28, 2011

    I'm surprised they have the same company buying google search as buys primetime TV. That's seriously old school.

  • Redav Redav on Aug 28, 2011

    I just need to know one thing: Do these numbers include the Transformers movies?

  • Ronin The very asking of the question "Are Plug-In Hybrids the Future?" is an interesting one. Because just 2 or 3 years ago we'd be asking- no, asserting- that E cars are the future. We're no longer asking that question.
  • Peter Benn There apparently were some K-code 4-dr sedan Fairlanes. Collectible Automobile Apr 2024 has found a '63 500 with HD 3/spd.
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  • Rust-MyEnemy Whoa, what the hell is wrong with Jalop1991 and his condescension? It's as if he's employed by Big Plug-In or something."I've seen plenty of your types on the forums....."Dunno what that means, but I'm not dead keen on being regarded as "A type" by a complete stranger"" I'm guessing you've never actually calculated by hand the miles you've driven against the quantity of gas used--which is your actual miles per gallon."Guess again. Why the hell would you even say that? Yes, I worked it out. Fill-to-fill, based on gas station receipts. And it showed me that a Vauxhall Astra PHEV, starting out with a fully charged PHEV battery, in Hybrid mode, on my long (234-mile) daily motorway daily commute, never, over several months, ever matched or beat the economy of the regular hybrid Honda Civic that I ran for a similar amount of time (circa 5000 miles)."You don't use gasoline at all for 30-40 miles as you use exclusively battery power, then your vehicle is a pure hybrid. Over 234 miles, you will have used whatever gas the engine used for 200 of those miles."At least you're right on that. In hybrid mode, though, the Astra was using battery power when it wasn't at all appropriate. The petrol engine very rarely chimed in when battery power was on tap, and as a result, the EV-mode range quickly disappeared. The regular hybrid Civic, though, deployed its very small electric reserves (which are used up quickly but restore themselves promptly), much more wisely. Such as when on a trailing throttle or on a downward grade, or when in stop-start traffic. As a result, at the end of my 234 miles, the Civic had used less gas than the Astra. Moreover, I hadn't had to pay for the electricity in its battery.I look forward to you arguing that what actually happened isn't what actually happened, but I was there and you were not."Regardless, that you don't understand it appears not to have stopped you from pontificating on it. Please, do us all a favor--don't vote."You really are quite unpleasant, aren't you. But thanks for the advice.
  • Tassos Jong-iL Electric vehicles are mandated by 2020 in One Korea. We are ahead of the time.
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