GM Mulls Further Roster Changes

General Motors, which last week switched one of its agencies for the first time in nearly 40 years, is continuing to re-examine its roster. The move will likely lead to changes on the Cadillac account next, sources said last week.
Cadillac product publicity manager Debbie Frakes said, “There are no plans to switch agencies anytime in the near future.” Sources said, however, that the client has begun to quietly discuss the Cadillac account with other agencies.
Gary Horton, deputy managing director and chief creative officer at D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Troy, Mich., Cadillac’s lead agency, said he had received “no indications” from the client that a change is under consideration.
Having one agency handle more than one car line does not fit into GM’s new brand management system, which calls for more differentiation among brands, sources said. That notion played a role in the automaker’s shift of the GMC truck line last week, according to these sources, and has GM reassessing DMB&B’s handling of both Cadillac and the Pontiac half of the Pontiac-GMC division.
Last week, GM moved the $70 million-plus GMC account to Ammirati Puris Lintas in New York from McCann-Erickson in Troy, which remains the agency for Buick. GM plans to reposition GMC with a more upscale image, and Ammirati seems like a “natural fit,” said Michael O’Malley, Pontiac-GMC division marketing services manager.
Ammirati is GM’s agency for the OnStar navigation system and is finishing its first TV spot for the brand, set to air Thanksgiving Day. In the 60-second ad, a young boy fantasizes about the scary things that could go wrong should his family’s car run out of gas on a dark, rainy night. Special effects help his imagination come alive as a “deer crossing” sign comes to life and the animal appears to leap in front of the car. With the help of OnStar, the family locates a gas station. Taglines under consideration include “We’re always there” and “Always with you.” –with Scott Hume