Will GM Get Auto Ads Back on the Road?
Try talking about TV advertising without touching on the auto sector. You can’t.
This week the topic of auto advertising is under additional focus as Wall Street analysts try to predict a possible upswing in the critical TV ad category ahead of media earnings. Publicis Groupe, the France-based ad holding company which owns many of the ad agencies that General Motors retains, is due to report second quarter results tomorrow. It is expected to shed some light on their client’s payment plans.
GM, of course, entered bankruptcy court in June, prompting fears that TV partners might not get paid for ads they have run. In filings, Publicis Groupe’s media agency Starcom was owed as much as $121 million. Those fears appear to have eased now that Publicis puts its maximum exposure to GM at 9 million Euros ($12.8 million).
In a statement Tuesday, the ad giant said: “Since the bankruptcy filing, ‘Old GM’ has signed agreements with some of our agencies and assumed and assigned contracts with other of our agencies to the ‘New GM.’ As a result, we have received payment of the bulk of our fee receivables as of the date of the bankruptcy, and GM has committed to pay us our remaining pre-petition fee receivables over the next few months.”
With former vice chairman Bob Lutz now at the helm of the marketing department, GM may be ready to take a different approach to its advertising. The company will continue to market Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC while dropping Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac. A GM spokeswoman told B&C’s ADverse that new campaigns for the four brands were being readied for August.
Already, auto-focused blogs are suggesting that Lutz isn’t happy with a fresh campaign for Buick, which GM is trying to position as an alternative to Toyota’s Lexus brand. [Insert autoblog link here]. Whatever the creative snafus, TV sales executives will be relieved to hear that GM is no longer on the sidelines and is poised to be a player in the ad market once again.
GM will point out it never stopped advertising - even while in bankruptcy proceedings. Speaking on a conference call Tuesday Morgan Stanley’s media analyst Ben Swinburne suggested that after years of cutting back on ad spending, autos could be poised for a come back in 2010 if they want to stimulate car buying. The question is where will they spend it?