GM consolidates US media biz with Starcom; six agencies in fray for India account

MUMBAI: Automobile behemoth General Motors Corp. has moved its lucrative US media buying account worth an estimated $3.5 billion to GM Planworks, an arm of Chicago-based Starcom MediaVest Group.



The account transition will be completed by 1 October.

GM Planworks boasts of a five year association with GM as it had been handling a separate $2.9-billion media planning business for the company since its inception in 2000.

General Motors called a pitch for its national and regional media-buying business this year on 11 March. Reportedly, the decision to review the account was triggered by an alarming situation of falling sales margins and narrowing market share. The outgoing agency, Detroit-based General Motors Mediaworks (a division of the InterPublicGroup) had been handling GM's media buying business along with New York-based LCI for the past 11 years.



Coincidentally, General Motors India has also called for a fresh pitch for its media buying and planning. A GM spokesperson, who confirmed the development clarified to that the account review was not linked to the US shift.

"Universal McCann, the incumbent agency had a contract with us for three years which has now come to an end," says vice-president and general manager Amit Dutta. He added that Universal McCann was defending the account.

He, however, refused to divulge the names of the other agencies.

Speculation is that six agencies - Starcom, Zenith, Carat, Maxus and Optimum Media Solutions - have pitched for the account which is estimated to be worth Rs 400 million.

Dutta revealed that a final decision would come by August.



The good news for Universal McCann India is that GM's European division consolidated media planning and buying duties for car and truck brands like Chevrolet and Saab in 45 markets with it, eliminating three other agencies (but including Initiative). Recently, GM India head Aditya Vij was promoted to the European unit with COO Rajeev Chaba being moved to the corner office as president and managing director.

General Motors India, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors Corp, sells Chevrolet Tavera, sedans Chevrolet Optra and Opel Corsa in the Indian market. It also sells the imported Opel Vectra and Chevrolet Forester.

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