GM Gives Mullen Credit

Shop to Relaunch Automaker’s Charge Card
BOSTON–Mullen has expanded the scope of its relationship with General Motors, adding an assignment to help reintroduce the GM Card.
The Wenham, Mass.-based agency was given its first assignment from the Detroit automaker two years ago, when it was tapped to develop launch advertising for the Certified Used Vehicle Program.
Mullen “does have a relationship with the card,” GM representative Donna Fontana said last week. She added, however, that there has been “no decision on any [specific] assignments. We’ve talked with Mullen but that’s actually a pretty standard thing. We’re always open to new ideas.”
Sources at another GM roster shop said Mullen was given a credit card assignment–believed to encompass both direct mail and interactive duties–in part to appease agency executives said to be disappointed with the shrunken CUV account.
GM doled out only $9.7 million to advertise the CUV program during 1997, according to Competitive Media Reporting, and nothing in the first seven months of 1998.
Executives at Mullen would not comment on the assignment.
A Mullen-created direct mail campaign, slated to drop this month, will relaunch the GM Card to consumers and is expected to include rebate offers on various GM products, according to sources.
The budget for the credit card’s reintroduction could not be determined at press time.
McCann-Erickson in Troy, Mich., served as national agency for the GM Card from its debut in 1993 until 1996, said Fontana, adding that advertising activity for the card has been minimal in recent years.
GM spent about $20 million on media in 1994 to support its credit card, according to Competitive Media Reporting. By comparison, it spent only $4.8 million to advertise the card in the first six months of 1998.
According to Fontana, however, advertising plans for the card will not be made public until the first quarter of next year. Both Mullen and McCann are believed to be working on becoming the national agency for the GM-branded credit card.
GM’s gold card, discontinued shortly after its introduction, was handled by D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles in Troy, Mich., Fontana said. DMB&B works for GM’s Cadillac and Pontiac brands, while McCann handles Buick.
Atkinson Group in St. Louis and Visual Services in Troy, Mich., have developed the most recent direct mail work for the card, said Fontana.