Agencies fight for General Motors' £90m media work

LONDON - General Motors is reviewing its £90m UK media planning and buying business, which includes the £63m Vauxhall, £20m Saab and £8m Daewoo accounts.

Initiative Media currently holds the Vauxhall and Daewoo accounts and Universal McCann handles Saab, but GM plans to consolidate into one agency. It has also contacted non-roster media agencies to pitch against Initiative and Universal.

The UK review follows a decision by GM to look at its European media on a market-by-market basis. It has already begun a review in Germany, where Universal McCann holds the business. The UK process is expected to be concluded within three months.

GM organises its media agencies on a local basis with Initiative, Universal and Starcom MediaVest -- which handles the US account -- all working in various key markets. Vauxhall last held a UK media review in 1998 when Western Media, subsequently merged into Initiative, retained the account after a pitch.

The decision to consolidate the entire UK business comes just six months after GM moved the Daewoo media account out of Mediaedge:cia into Initiative, following GM's takeover of Daewoo.

Patrick Dunster, the marketing communications manager at Vauxhall, said: "We've contacted a very small number of UK media agencies but we don't have a clear idea yet of who will compete for the business. We wanted to explore the opportunities that might be achieved by looking around in terms of economies of scale." Dunster said the pitching agencies would be selected from those already contacted.

Philip Walker, the business development director at Initiative, said: "It's not an unexpected thing in that, like most car manufacturers, GM is exploring its operational costs, and media is no exception. UK management is conducting the review and we're optimistic that we will be able to demonstrate what we can do across the whole portfolio. We're approaching this with a smile on our face."

GM's UK creative arrangements are not affected by the media review. Vauxhall's creative is split between Lowe and Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners. DLKW has made inroads into Lowe's grip on the account in the past 12 months and now handles advertising for key brands including Corsa and Astra. Lowe creates work for Saab and DFGW for Daewoo.

Recent media activity for Vauxhall has included the Network Q dealerships sponsorship of 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'.

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