A New ‘Cycle’: Donlin Works Out GM Unit Plan

GM Planworks, the media-planning unit created by the Starcom MediaVest Group to decide where General Motors should spend its $2.6 billion ad budget, is set to open Dec. 1, staffed largely by executives plucked from GM roster shops.

Staffers from outside GM’s realm have also been added to get some fresh thinking, said Dennis Donlin, who became president of the entity when the Detroit office of the Bcom3 media units won the business in July.

“The Detroit media community has been so self-contained, and we really want to break that cycle,” said Donlin of the hiring mix.

Total staffers will number from 150-200. About 85 percent of the unit’s top-level managers and about 75 percent of the rest of the staff have been hired, Donlin said.

Many are top-level media people from the shops that previously handled the automaker’s media planning and still handle creative. Among them are three directors of strategic communications planning for Chevrolet at Campbell-Ewald: Nancy Walter, an evp, and svps Karen Campbell and Gail Bindi. Also joining Planworks is Karen Schneider, a top Buick media planner at McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich.

Donlin said the Planworks office will be “virtually paperless,” using a secure Web site for staffers and the client. The media schedule from Interpublic Group unit GM Mediaworks, which buys GM’s media, will be part of the “one-system solution.

“It will really free up the administrative aspect of jobs,” noted Donlin.

CHUCK KENNEDY/NEWSMAKERS/NEWSCOM