Carat To Steer $3B GM Media, Digital: Global Savvy Was KeyTo Win

General Motors has awarded its estimated $3.5 billion global media planning and buying account to Aegis Group's Carat, after a formal review that began in August, the carmaker confirmed Tuesday.

Other contenders included the U.S. incumbent Starcom, Omnicom Media Group and Interpublic's Commenting on the award, GM's Global CMO Joel Ewanick said: "We wanted a media agency partner with the sophistication to leverage global marketing opportunities." He called Carat's approach "innovative" and able to "drive significant marketing value" that would align with with the company's global and regional brands.

At Aegis, North American CEO Nigel Morris said the company has been focused for nearly two years on reinventing itself with a focus on “convergence and globalization. We went in [to the review] with a very seamlessly integrated solution.” Part of the challenge, he added, is providing “deep specialization without any silos” that is essential to making the model work. 



Morris said the win was a “defining moment for the market and doing things differently.” The shop’s strategy for GM is "consumer-led with digital at the heart of it.”

Starcom, which has handled at least part of the North American business for a decade, issued a statement that read: "Naturally, we think GM is making a mistake. Over the years, we produced great work for this client and invested in our long-term partnership during difficult times. Today's news clearly saddens us, but we will get over it and apply our talent and global network to our next opportunity."

Separately, Starcom parent Publicis Groupe indicated that the GM media business covered in the review represents “less than 0.5% of Publicis Groupe revenue on a full-year basis.” The holding company noted that the shift from Starcom to Carat in North America will not be completed until June 30. "Publicis Groupe will serve GM on other fronts,” the holding company stated, referencing creative assignments held by Publicis Groupe shops on GM business.

Reps for IPG's Mediabrands and Omnicom Media Group did not immediately respond to queries for comment.

GM spends an estimated $3.5 billion in ads worldwide and just over $2.1 billion in the U.S., according to Kantar Media. It's the first consolidation review the auto giant has conducted since 2005, when Publicis Group's GM Planworks, then a dedicated GM media planning unit, beat Interpublic’s MediaWorks, the GM buying incumbent at the time.

In 2008, Planworks was folded into the operations of Starcom MediaVest Group, and then later, into Starcom  completely.

The review was not unexpected, given the arrival of Ewanick at the company in May of 2010 as head of U.S. marketing. In December he was promoted to global chief marketing officer. Ewanick and his team oversaw the review process internally, while outside consultant R3:JLB (the entity formed by the merger of R3 and Jones Lundin Beals last year) was hired to assist.

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