General Motors Launches a Creative Agency Review for GMC Brand

Incumbents Leo Burnett and DigitasLBi will defend the business

America's largest automaker has launched a creative agency review for one of its core brands as part of an extended effort to secure its position in both domestic and international markets.

In April, sources speculated that a blind RFP making its way around the agency world amounted to an outreach on behalf of General Motors Company, which was rumored to be launching reviews for its GMC and Buick brands.

Today, a company spokesperson confirmed that the GMC creative advertising business is indeed in review; however, these recent developments do not concern the Buick brand. Both accounts are currently with Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett and DigitasLBi, which have longstanding relationships with the larger General Motors Company.

"Expanding the relevance of GMC brand and positioning it for continued success are key priorities," the spokesperson wrote. "To support this effort, GMC is inviting multiple agencies to participate in a RFP to develop advertising strategies for the brand."

GM declined to provide more information on the agencies involved in the RFP, but noted that incumbents Leo Burnett and Digitas will be invited to defend the business. Multiple sources tell Adweek that the client notified the two agencies last week, just after McDonald's announced that it would be ending its relationship with Publicis Groupe in order to consolidate its advertising business with Omnicom.

This news comes almost three months after Publicis announced that the Detroit offices of those two agencies would join forces to form "united partnership" Engage M-1, which takes its name from the Motor City's central roadway. A Publicis spokesperson told Adweek at the time that the two offices would retain their separate offices and brands while combining forces to serve the client.

Leo Burnett has worked with General Motors in some form for more than 45 years, and GM was one of the Digitas agency's flagship clients. The former agency won lead creative duties for Buick and GMC in 2007 without a review as the client moved its business away from McCann and Lowe.

This is not the only recent change to GM's agency roster: In early 2015, the company sent its Chevy Silverado brand to Commonwealth//McCann, a unit formed in 2012 to handle the global Chevrolet advertising business. Earlier this summer, the larger GM organization also picked Kovert Creative and Weber Shandwick to handle public relations for Cadillac and Chevrolet, respectively, with The Detroit News reporting that an RFP for PR duties on Buick and GMC was expected "by the end of the year." Dentsu Aegis' Carat remains GM's media agency of record after winning the $3 billion account in a 2012 review.

General Motors Company LLC, which formed as a product of the General Motors Corporation's 2009 bankruptcy restructuring, remains one of America's largest advertisers. According to Kantar Media, the company spent $269 million on measured media promoting its GMC brand in 2015; that total does not include spending for its other roster brands such as Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet.

Spokespeople for Leo Burnett and DigitasLBi deferred to the client for comment on the news.