GM to shift Super Bowl ad savings to support model launches in 2013
GM's vehicle introductions planned for 2013 -- the automaker's busiest launch schedule in years -- include the revamped 2014 Chevrolet Impala sedan.
DETROIT -- General Motors' top marketing executive said today the automaker will plow savings from a recent decision to drop Super Bowl advertising into other ads and marketing efforts to support a slate of vehicle launches planned in 2013.
In his first public comments since GM confirmed two weeks ago that it plans to pass on advertising during the 2013 Super Bowl, GM global marketing chief Joel Ewanick said he has "started reapplying those dollars to other very efficient ways of doing the same thing."
Among the vehicle introductions planned for 2013 -- GM's busiest launch schedule in many years -- are the Chevrolet Impala sedan and the next generations of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-sized pickups. The pickups are expected to go on sale sometime in the spring; followed by all-new full-sized SUVs based on the pickups later in the year.
Ewanick, a longtime proponent of Super Bowl advertising, acknowledged that the game would have been a good platform to plug the next generation of trucks.
But he reiterated his reasoning for deciding to pass after two years of running several commercials during the Super Bowl: It has gotten too expensive.
Ewanick called the rate increases proposed by CBS, which will air the 2013 game, "significant," but declined to give a percentage increase. Several media outlets have reported that the network is asking for increases of as much as 25 percent, which would push the price of a 30-second commercial to $4 million or more.
"We don't have unlimited resources," Ewanick told reporters at an event to detail a new sponsorship deal between Chevrolet and British soccer club Manchester United.
"We have some pretty significant launches next year. We're going to need resources to launch those cars and trucks," he said.
Ewanick said he didn't want to waste resources "on something that we feel we're starting to overpay for."
He said he was happy with GM's return on investment from the 2012 Super Bowl in February.
But he said GM was "bouncing against the threshold" of what he felt it needed to justify the spending.
He said GM "worked really hard" on digital media, such as its own Super Bowl mobile app, to get the return that it did.
Ewanick said the Super Bowl decision came as part of a line-by-line review of GM's annual marketing outlays. The automaker spent $4.48 billion on advertising in 2011, according to its annual report.
He said he is carrying out GM CEO Dan Akerson's orders to trim costs and spend ad dollars more efficiently.
For example, Ewanick recently consolidated the number of creative ad agencies that do work for Chevrolet from about 70 to just one. He also handed media-buying duties to just one company, from dozens. He estimates those moves will save $2 billion over five years.
"As I've told Dan Akerson, we'll find efficiencies in everything we do," Ewanick said. "Every cent counts."
He also commented on his recent decision to drop the roughly $10 million a year it spends on direct advertising on Facebook.
Ewanick said GM spends $30 million a year to create content that ends up on Facebook pages, and another $10 million to advertise directly on the site, through pop-up ads, for example.
He said GM is cutting that direct advertising but will spend that money to create more GM content for Facebook users, which he said is effective.
"What we're having trouble seeing is the value in the advertising," Ewanick said. "What we hear from our consumers ... they say it's a little bit distracting. We have to find better ways to have those ads that pop on there very relevant."
Several media reports have said that Facebook denied a GM request to buy its own page of advertising on the social media site, rather than the smaller ads that appear on the right-hand side of the page. In an answer to a question today, Ewanick didn't deny that version of events.
"We didn't just ask for that," he said. "We asked for a whole bunch of other things, too. We're here to maximize every opportunity."
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