Dispute Puts APL’s GMC in Doubt

A dispute between Ammirati Puris Lintas and General Motors over compensation on the OnStar account could jeopardize the agency’s remaining business with the automaker, according to sources.
APL was recently dismissed from the $20 million OnStar navigational system account, sources said. APL wants more money for its work over the preceding year than the client is willing to pay, sources said. Dollar amounts were undisclosed, but sources said the root of the fight lies in the fact that none of APL’s work over that time period was used. GM has been utilizing Campbell Ewald Advertising, Warren, Mich., instead.
GM told APL it was unhappy with the shop’s OnStar work in October, sources said, and the agency was given one last chance in January. Its pitch was unsuccessful. OnStar then chose CEA from GM roster shops Mullen, Wenham, Mass. (GM’s Certified Used Vehicles and the GM MasterCard); Leo Burnett, Chicago (GM’s Oldsmobile division); and Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York (Cadillac Escalade launch).
CEA, the national shop for GM’s Chevrolet division, is negotiating a contract with GM to assume duties on the account, which it has been working on since the summer. Both APL and CEA are IPG shops. The compensation dispute has reflected so badly on APL that GM executives, including general manager of advertising Phil Guarascio, are weighing APL’s future with its $120 million GMC truck account, sources said.
The client remains dissatisfied with APL’s GMC creative, several sources said, but the OnStar squabble has compounded matters. Also at stake:
$100 million in regional GMC dealer advertising duties set to be assigned to APL April 1. Guarascio could not be reached. APL declined comment.