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GM Puts Another Bullett in IPG

Posted by: David Kiley on June 26, 2007

GM Puts Another Bullet in IPG

General Motors finally, after years of criticism, yanked the Buick business from IPG’s McCann-Erickson, Detroit, consolidating the Buick, Pontiac and GMC business at Publicis’s Leo Burnett. The other loser in this move was IPG’s Lowe & Partners, which had ably handled the GMC business. Burnett had been handling Pontiac.

Burnett was stung in 2005 when GM yanked the Cadillac business from the agency and moved it to Modernista!, which had been handling Hummer.

Of the three brands to land at Burnett, only GMC is on coherent footing. There was a competition for the business among McCann and Lowe on one side and Burnett on the other. But somehow, Burnett put the best foot forward despite a steady recent diet of forgettable Pontiac work.

Still, nothing has been as forgettable as McCann’s work for Buick. To be fair, the string of client executives at GM that have been charged with solving Buick have a lot to answer for. But the creative work at Buick, almost without exception, going back to the mid 1990s has been dreadful. Who remembers, “Buick: It’s All Good.”? Zounds! I chided a senior GM exec recently for yet another new ad slogan for Buick. His response: “We have had so many, what difference does it make?”

That inspires confidence.

Buick is a conservative brand, but with a collection of very respectable products today: Lucerne, Lacrosse and Enclave. Yes, most of the people buying Buick’s are over 60. Yes, it’s a particular favorite of the AARP.

But it is a brand worth breathing some life into. My free advice: GMC’s work seems to be right, so just keep doing more the “Professional Grade” stuff Lowe was doing. Sub-contract the Buick assignment to Publicis agency Fallon Worldwide to see what the former agency can come up with. And concentrate on pushing Pontiac up the brand hill. Having seen Publicis/Leo Burnett choke previously while trying to manage both Cadillac and Pontiac under the same roof, I would hesitate to put three brands under that umbrella when there are other Publicis resources that could be brought to the problem. Oh well…there goes by Christmas card from Leo Burnett.

Reader Comments

Gunnar Heinrich

July 2, 2007 12:51 AM

At least we've been relieved of those Harley Earle ads.

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