GM Dealer Shops Pool Resources

CHICAGO Two of General Motors’ retail marketing agencies are joining forces to handle dealer marketing for the company’s Buick, Pontiac and GMC brands, which account for about $200 million in combined media spending.

Publicis Groupe’s Martin Retail Group in Birmingham, Ala., and Interpublic Group’s Jay Advertising in Rochester, N.Y., will combine resources to create the Martin-Jay Retail Group, a unit dedicated to the GM dealer business. The two organizations will maintain their separate corporate affiliations, but will work together as one organization on the three nameplates.

“We think this is a pretty good solution for the division, the agencies and the dealer groups,” said Brian Sweeney, general manager of GMC-Buick-Pontiac integration. “We have two strong heritage retail service agencies that are coming together.”

David Martin, president of Martin Retail, and Ferdinand Jay Smith, CEO of Jay Advertising, will oversee the Martin-Jay Retail Group as co-chairmen of the new entity. The partnership becomes effective May 9.

The two shops and their affiliated agencies previously handled the business. IPG’s Lowe and Jay shared duties on GMC, while McCann and Jay worked on Buick. Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett Detroit and Martin Retail Group handled Pontiac. National assignments, which are handled through the affiliated agencies, are not expected to change, Sweeney said.

GM had been reviewing the $200 million dealer assignment, with Martin Retail and Jay (along with McCann, Lowe and Burnett) participating. Joining forces effectively ends the competition, and none of the agencies will lose business as a result.

The new set-up does not affect national creative assignments, which are handled by the national lead agencies, Sweeney said. Rather, representatives from the Martin-Jay Retail Group will be the point people implementing local marketing initiatives and selling through the creative, he said.

Having the incumbent retail marketing agencies combine services will maintain better continuity than shifting all of the business to one of the three teams, Sweeney said. “We have 357 local marketing groups,” he said. “This way a lot of those relationships will be maintained.”

The shift came after GM aligned the three brands into one reporting structure. It was unknown if other dealer groups would be changing their agency relationships, though Sweeney said he did not envision other GM brands doing similar consolidations in the near future.