DETROIT -- General Motors' days of making blockbuster media buys are coming to an end.
GM, known for two decades for driving the biggest and cheapest media bargains, is changing its advertising strategy from being merely efficient to being effective.
GM plans to be more targeted, giving up some of the efficiency that came with huge bundled advertising buys, said Brent Dewar, vice president of North American marketing and advertising.
His statement sheds light on why GM this month fired the agency that bought $3.3 billion a year in GM broadcast time and print space. GM shifted the media buying function to Starcom MediaVest, a unit of Publicis Groupe. Starcom's GM Planworks develops strategies for where GM advertising runs.
But consolidation wasn't the point of the switch, Dewar said last week: "We could have been just as effective doing planning and media separately."
The reason, he said, was a need to do a better job of tailoring a message for GM products and their targeted audience.
Traditionally, GM has bought big blocks of time and space cheaply and then has assigned the broadcast time or print pages to its various brands, said Dewar.
GM's firing of the Interpublic Group of Companies' GM Mediaworks agency this month was aimed at buying better-targeted media for individual brands, such as Chevrolet or Buick.
The timing was designed to put the new media buying approach in place before the spring upfront buying season, when TV time is locked in for the fall programs. The new system will be fully in place by Oct. 1.
Dewar and Betsy Lazar, GM's general director of advertising and media operations, will meet this week with Dennis Donlin, president of GM Planworks, who will become the head of the combined planning and media agency under Publicis.
"We are going to eliminate what I call 'the spill factor,' " Dewar said. That is the ineffective use of cheaply bought space and time.
At GM Mediaworks, media buyers basically worked for General Motors. In the new agency there will be Chevrolet people and Cadillac people who will watch out for the individual brands.
Now, said Dewar, GM is interested in getting the most bang for the buck.
GM doesn't want to buy random pages scattered in magazines, he said: "We want to own the book."
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