SMG Begins Planning for GM

MediaVest’s Donlin Will Head New Unit for $2.6 Bil. Business
CHICAGO–Starcom MediaVest Group began putting the pieces of its new GM planning unit together last week, naming Dennis Donlin president of the Detroit-based operation.
Donlin was evp of MediaVest’s Detroit office. Before that, he held the top media post at GM shop D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, also in Detroit. He was part of SMG’s presentation team and has a fan in Mike Browner, executive director of media at GM, a source said.
The staff of what is tentatively being called GM Planworks will largely be gleaned from SMG units, said Jack Klues, the media company’s CEO. “We will draw from our own network of resources to fill a significant number of positions,” he said.
SMG’s assignment includes strategic and tactical media planning on its $2.6 billion U.S. account for all GM divisions except Saturn and Saab, which may be added later, said Browner. Media planning has been at GM’s creative roster shops: Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich. (Chevrolet); Lowe, Lintas & Partners, New York (GMC trucks); McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich. (Buick); and Bcom3 shops Leo Burnett, Chicago (Oldsmobile), and D’Arcy (Cadillac and Pontiac).
Planworks is expected to be fully operational by early 2001.
Created in May by Bcom3, SMG beat Initiative Media North America and Carat North America last week for GM planning duties.
John Middlebrook, GM’s vp and general manager, said consolidating media planning would provide several “efficiencies” for GM, such as improved market effectiveness. But GM’s decision led many to speculate that others will follow.
“This is a very dramatic, emphatic vote for one-stop shopping in a media operation, the integration of planning with buying for smoother handling,” said one consultant who works with national advertisers.
Another source expected the move to create “an avalanche” of unbundling media accounts as clients look to get more value for their money. –with Jack Feuer and Tanya Irwi