DETROIT: US automaking giant General Motors is loosening its advertising purse strings to allow local dealers to make their own creative and media decisions.

The gear change is likely to bring a frisson of fear to agencies currently enjoying revenues from the $500 million (€341.4m; £246m) budget.

The move harks back to a previous era of local dealer advertising which GM halted in 1999. From that time local marketing groups (LMGs) have had to use national agencies and the accounts have been centrally controlled by GM.

The shift has been described by Brent Dewar, vp-field sales, service and parts for GM in North America, as a "back-to-the-future scenario".

It will allow dealers to stay with incumbent agencies or find new shops. The proviso is that dealer groups will have to fund any customized regional work from any new agencies.

Dewar believes LMGs in most major markets will maintain the status quo, while new agencies may be appointed in mid-markets locations.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff