by GM will eliminate all black ad agencies of record
Target Market News
(November 19, 2007) By the end of the year General Motors says that it
will be stripping the black-owned ad agencies it works with of their
account assignments. According to published news stories, the work is
being given instead to general market agencies as part of GM’s plan to
restructure its marketing efforts.
The announcement from GM, the world’s largest automaker, runs against the
current practice throughout the auto industry. Targeting African-American
car buyers with advertising created by African-American ad shops has been
a long-standing marketing strategy which research has shown to be
effective in competing in the marketplace.
The elimination of black ad agency expertise by GM, if instituted, would
make the global corporate giant the only carmaker engaged in such a
strategy at a time when it is trying to reverse its troubled financial
Under the plan the African-American focused ads for Cadillac, GMC and
Hummer would be taken from the Carol H. Williams Advertising agency and
re-assigned to Modernista and Leo Burnett Worldwide. Chevrolet, which CHWA
also handled, has been put up for review. CHWA is among those black
agencies invited to compete for the account.
Black consumer advertising for both Buick and Pontiac, currently handled
by Vigilante Advertising, would be re-assigned to Leo Burnett, which owns
an interest in Vigilante.
Besides the fact that GM would be the only U.S.-based car manufacturer
without a black-owned ad agency of record for any of its eight brands, the
juggling comes at a time when research suggests that the work produced by
incumbent black agencies has produced positive results. Toyota, which
moved past GM this year to claim the title of Number One car company, has
long retained the Burrell ad agency to produce its African-American
According to the auto industry’s leading research source, R.L. Polk,
Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet are the top three auto lines with
African-Americans. Pontiac and GMC are sixth and seventh on the list.
A company spokesperson insisted that the moves in accounts would improve
GM’s ability to produce so-called multicultural messages.
”It is not the case at all that we are pulling away from diversity
marketing,” GM spokesperson Ryndee Carney told Automotive News.
“This is by no means an indication that we are not committed or spending
less. We will not have one-size-fits-all.”
Accentmarketing, a minority-owned agency under the Interpublic Group that
produces ads for Latino consumers, will continue on its assignments for
Cadillac, Chevrolet and Hummer. Accenmarketing’s Hummer and Pontiac
accounts will be given to Leo Burnett.
According to Advertising Age, GM was the nation’s third largest
advertiser in 2006, with $3.2 billion in expenditures.
Representatives at Carol H. Williams and Vigilante agencies refused to
comment on the account shifts.
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