General Motors plans to boost adspend

10 August 2010

DETROIT: General Motors is planning to heighten its advertising spend, in recognition of the fact that communications "is part of what made this company great."

The carmaker, which is continuing to reestablish its corporate image after filing for bankruptcy protection in mid-2009, now intends to boost expenditure levels by between 3% and 5% in 2010.

"We have to build the brands," Joel Ewanick, General Motors' vice president of US marketing, said.

According to Ewanick, thousands of members of the public sent him emails offering their advice relating to the organisation's future when he was appointed to his current role in May 2010.

"The pent-up passion, enthusiasm, people have for these brands is huge, and it runs really deep," he said. "We need to find a way to channel, to use, that."

Over "the last 30 or 40 years, consumers became so secondary" to the corporation's activities, he suggested.

This in turn means a change in strategy is essential.

Ewanick also revealed that GM will invest in major events like the Super Bowl, as this kind of high-profile output "is part of what made this company great."

Approximately 70% of its media budget is set to be allocated to Chevrolet, while the remainder is slated to cover the GMC, Cadillac and Buick marques.

GM has agreed a deal with Fox to show a minimum of two Chevy spots during the Super Bowl, bought up ads for further NFL matches and will sponsor the Oprah Winfrey Network, which is due go on air in early 2011.

Goodby Silverstein & Partners, a unit of Omnicom Group, is also developing a new campaign for Chevrolet in September, replacing the previous "Excellence for All" tagline.

Although Ewanick stopped short of disclosing broader details about the repositioning, he did "wrapping the brand in an American flag" had not been considered as an option.

Elsewhere, Fallon, owned by Publicis Groupe, has similarly scrapped the "Mark of Leadership" slogan for Cadillac.

Instead, communications will return to the idea of "The Standard of the World" first employed around six decades ago, emphasising issues like luxury and performance.

"I need partners on these two critical brands that understand how to tell a story," said Ewanick, who has created a "marketing board of directors" consisting of senior executives from its agencies.

Kantar Media, an arm of WPP Group, has estimated that General Motors posted an adspend of $2.2bn (£1.4bn; €1.7bn) in 2009, but GM disputed this figure.

Kantar also reported that General Motors' outlay climbed by 29% year-on-year, to $539m, in Q1 2010.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/New York Times; additional content by Warc staff