GM Shifts Control of Local Spot

DETROIT — GM Mediaworks will gain oversight of $800 million-plus in billings as the dedicated General Motors buying shop establishes a new management team to
supervise local broadcast buying for GM. Interpublic Group sister Local Communications, Inc., a unit of Universal McCann, will continue to do the buying under the new management structure.

The car maker has upped its total spend in spot buying to more than $800 million from $300 million, as buying for local dealer groups was added to LCI’s chores, sources said. The impetus for the shift, which will take place within the next month, was the “explosive growth” of local broadcast spending in the past year due to the formation of the dealer groups, said Michael Browner, GM executive director, media and marketing operations.

Browner added that moving local broadcast leadership to Mediaworks was a joint idea between him and IPG chairman John Dooner. Also involved in the decision was former Initiative Media Worldwide CEO Lou Schultz, a longtime Detroit adman who left Initiative in January but continues to consult for IPG.

Schultz in the 1990s was instrumental in the creation of both GM Mediaworks and LCI. He worked on the latest shift with GM Mediaworks president Rick Sirvaitis.

Browner said the management group would include about 10 as-yet-unnamed executives and likely include some current LCI personnel. Also under consideration is placing some of the new management team in GM regional offices around the country.

GM Mediaworks in New York currently handles network TV, cable, syndication, and network radio. Its Warren, Mich., office is charged with magazine, national/ local newspaper, outdoor and interactive. LCI handles spot TV and radio, including Hispanic, and local cable.

It has yet to be determined where the LCI unit that handles GM will be housed after the shift. LCI’s Troy, Mich., office, which is led by Diann Secor, senior vice president, director of local broadcast operations, will continue to buy local media for other IPG clients, including Nestle, Microsoft, Lowe’s and Kohl’s Department Stores.