DETROIT -- General Motors' decision to put Chevrolet's global advertising work up for grabs spotlights two core priorities of the "new GM":
1. Squeeze out cost and complexity.
2. Transform its all-American brand into a worldwide player.
GM said last week that it has asked four ad agencies for "proposals on creative solutions for Chevrolet's global marketing operations." GM spends most of its $4.3 billion global ad budget on the Chevy brand.
Three of the agencies now do work for GM, and the result of the review is likely to have a profound effect on how their workloads, and billings, will change.
The move is a step toward driving "efficiencies in our marketing operations on a global scale," Joel Ewanick, GM's global marketing chief, said in a statement.
It's also about getting Chevrolet to speak to consumers around the world with one voice -- something Ewanick has acknowledged that the brand hasn't done well in the past.
As he works to carry out CEO Dan Akerson's strategy to increase Chevy's global market share, Ewanick is trying to stitch together his sprawling marketing apparatus by combining budgets and borrowing ideas. "I'm bringing these guys together and making them talk," Ewanick told Automotive News in July. "Some of the work they're doing in India we could run in North America or in Europe."
It's also a cost-savings move, Ewanick said then, because "we can pay for it once and get that same bang around the world."
The ad review renewed speculation around Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the lead creative agency for the Chevy brand in the United States since May 2010. In August, Ewanick told Automotive News that Goodby's work, which includes the "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign, "hasn't been consistent."
But the review is not aimed at Goodby, which remains in good standing with Ewanick, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The agencies that will offer proposals are Goodby, which is owned by Omnicom Group Inc.; Interpublic Group of Cos.; Publicis Groupe of France and Cheil Worldwide of Korea. Except for Cheil, all four of those firms do work for GM and have much to lose -- or gain -- from GM's next move. Dozens of smaller firms globally also could lose GM's business if it consolidates accounts.
GM said late last week that the review will be complete by year end.
The ad review is consistent with Akerson's view that GM needs to cut cost and layers out of its massive enterprise.