Interpublic Group of Cos. has formed a dedicated unit called GM EventWorks to handle sports and event marketing for General Motors, strengthening its ties to the automaker.
The new shop will work on the GM umbrella brand and filter deals down to GM's vehicle divisions, said Phil Guarascio, GM's general manager of marketing and advertising.
GM had been working with several different sports marketing resources, he added, 'which wasn't the best way to do it.'
Based in New York City, Interpublic owns various ad agencies, including GM agencies Campbell-Ewald and McCann-Erickson Worldwide.
Guarascio said the deal will not immediately affect shops such as Frankel & Co., based in Chicago, which became the promotional agency earlier this year for Oldsmobile. But, he added, 'Long term, there may be opportunities for EventWorks to do work for the divisions.'
Compensation to GM EventWorks will be based on an annual fee, with more payments for activities that pop up during the year.
The account is expected to grow from about $10 million this year. GM has stepped up its use of nontraditional media to reach consumers over each of the past several years.
GM EventWorks has begun working with GM on organizing its Women's National Basketball Association sponsorship; improving its New York showroom; and tie-ins with Sony Corp. of America, the Professional Golfers' Association and the Test Track ride and exhibit, opening this fall at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.
GM EventWorks was created out of Kaleidoscope Sports & Entertainment, a 3-month-old joint venture between Interpublic and Kaleidoscope Media Group, based in New York City. Kaleidoscope Sports & Entertainment, 51 percent owned by Interpublic, will continue to work with other clients.
GM has worked with Kaleidoscope Media and its predecessors for the past decade. Kaleidoscope's People & Properties' arm has been running Buick's PGA program for 10 years; Kaleidoscope Media worked with GM on its sponsorship and promotions for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
GM is deluged annually with unsolicited proposals for events or sports tie-ins, said Ray Volpe, CEO of Kaleidoscope Sports. GM EventWorks' responsibilities will be to review those proposals, analyze them, coordinate negotiations, create new events GM can own and oversee or produce the events.