GM Ponders Consolidation of Media Planning

Middlebrook Plans No Major Shifts From Guarascio’s Path
DETROIT–General Motors is considering a consolidation of its media-planning duties, now spread among roster shops, at a single agency, the automaker’s top marketer said last week.
The proposed consolidation is one of the few big changes John Middlebrook laid out in an interview last week, three months after taking over as GM’s marketing chief upon Phil Guarascio’s retirement.
Middlebrook, 59, said he does not plan any major shifts in spending or strategy, and that GM, Detroit, will still use nonroster shops for projects. That will be done to bring in “fresh” perspectives and to ease the workload of the national agencies, which took on regional-marketing duties last year, he said.
“Frankly, when we get going here, [agency] workloads are pretty high, and sometimes when we drop a new project on them, everyone’s busy, and you get a lot more attention if you can take it outside,” he said.
The national media-planning consolidation remains under scrutiny, though shops have been contacted, Middlebrook said. The consolidation would follow the shift of more than $3 billion in media-buying duties to the Interpublic Group’s GM Mediaworks in Warren, Mich., several years ago.
“We’re going through a discovery and a quote process,” said Middlebrook. “We definitely think there is potential leverage and efficiency to be gained through certain aspects of media planning being consolidated. It’s determining which aspects.”
He added that a decision is expected by the year’s end.
Middlebrook became vp and general manager, GM advertising and corporate marketing, in addition to his role as general manager, vehicle brand marketing for the vehicle, sales, service and marketing staff of GM, on April 1. He had served as general manager for vehicle brand marketing for GM’s North American operations since 1999.
At GM, he has held posts such as general manager of the Chevrolet and Pontiac divisions, and vp in charge of sales, service and marketing for Saturn Corp. Guarascio reported to Middlebrook for a period when he joined GM in the 1980s.