Car giants unite to target consumers

The motor giants Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler are

joining forces to launch a consumer website and are looking for agencies

to promote the venture.



Covisint, a company formed by the big three motor groups last year, is

to establish an online presence to provide consumers with information

about cars and motor accessories. This is the first time Ford and

General Motors have worked together to target consumers. Covisint was

originally formed as a business-to-business alliance to distribute car

parts.



The consumer website is being launched because manufacturers want to

offer consumers advice at the initial stages of the car-buying process

to combat the growing influence of online and offline services such as

Top Gear, What Car? and Fish4.



The pan-European advertising and media pitch, with a budget of up to

pounds 100 million, has reached a second stage with four agency groups

thought to be pitching. These include Young & Rubicam, which is on

Ford's roster, and McCann-Erickson, which is a major General Motors

agency. Sources say CDP, a Honda agency, is also pitching. Eight agency

groups were initially approached.



Each creative agency is pitching in partnership with a media agency.



Covisint has already appointed Interbrand Digital to develop the

website.



Agency sources said that the plans for the new consumer service were at

an early stage but that the launch is designed to provide Ford, General

Motors and Mercedes, owned by DaimlerChrysler, with a direct route of

telling consumers about the benefits of their vehicles.



The Covisint consumer online service is expected to run separately from

existing web services offered by the three manufacturers. General Motors

recently launched a direct selling venture in the UK and other markets,

and Ford launched its Ford Direct service, which also allows consumers

to buy cars online, in the US and UK last year.



Covisint's advertising for its car parts business was launched by Y&R

last October. Its global campaign uses the line: 'Accelerating the pace

of business.'



Two weeks ago, more than a year after its launch, Covisint appointed a

chief executive, Kevin English, who was previously the chief executive

of TheStreet.com.



It also unveiled plans to open a European headquarters in Amsterdam.



Separately, GM is reviewing its pan-European digital account. This is

handled by Modem Media.



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