GM’S GLOBAL GAMBITS

General Motors has two big chunks of business up for grabs- its global Chevrolet creative account and its worldwide media account.

The grapevine is buzzing that GM is close to tapping IPG’s McCann-Erickson as its first global creative agency of record for Chevrolet. Makes sense, since McCann already handles Chevy in China and Latin America, along with India, which it won last year in a review.

The win would be a major boost for McCann, which first handled GM in 1958 after resigning Chrysler’s account to take on Buick. But McCann lost Buick in 2007 without a review to Publicis Groupe’s Leo Burnett. McCann did tons of work for GM’s corporate account and landed GM’s Saab North American account in 2007. But the business on both accounts has dwindled.

Chevy is growing around the planet, tallying 4.76 million vehicles in 2011, a global sales record for the brand and good news for GM.

If you’re wondering about Chevy in the USA, word is McCann will have to work with Chevrolet’s creative shop, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in this country.

Back in 2005, GM pushed McCann into the arms of IPG sibling Campbell-Ewald, Chevrolet’s long-time USA shop, to support Chevrolet as it drove into global markets. That team effort, dubbed Chevrolet Brandcom, fell by the wayside during GM’s tumultuous financial fall.

But this new plan for Chevy seems fraught with peril, since Goodby is owned by competing mega-holding company Omnicom.

Chevrolet’s Chris Perry, VP-global marketing and strategy, only smiled at me when I  ran this grapevine buzz past him at the Detroit auto show. He told me the decision is coming down at the end of the month, adding Chevrolet currently has 50 different ad agencies worldwide.

GM has tried this dual holding company approach in the past, when it had its massive USA media planning and buying split between IPG and Publicis. At the time, GM’s brass said the holding companies’ two agencies would work well together. But in the end, to the surprise of no one but GM apparently, they didn’t play nice with each other at all. The automaker ended up consolidating its media business at Publicis.

Now Publicis is defending not only that giant piece of GM’s media business here in the USA, but trying to get the consolidated global media business.

And it’s not looking good for the home team. Rumblings in the ad world have Aegis Group’s Carat already picked and in the midst of contract terms with GM – translation pricing, which could jinx the whole deal.

So no wonder GM’s global CMO Joel Ewanick is deflecting press inquiries, saying there’s no winner- yet- at least not for a few more weeks. He said: “No one out there knows anything. They think they do. But it can change tomorrow. I went to bed last night, and changed my mind.”
Okey dokey.

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SUPER  BOWL TIME

The hype for automakers advertising in the Super Bowl Feb. 5 is in full swing. Two car companies have released teasers of their Big Game commercials.

VW, which last year in one of its two spots had a child dressed as Darth Vader for the Passat, is apparently continuing its Star Wars’ tie-in.

Tim Mahoney, VW’s CMO and Exec VP , told me the Super Bowl commercial will be a minute-long and for the redone Beetle. Deutsch, Los Angeles, handles VW’s creative account.

And Toyota’s lux Lexus brand is making its first Super Bowl appearance- featuring the 2013 GS, which officially launches next month.

Here’s the sneak peak from Lexus

Hmmm. Lexus’ longtime agency, Team One, didn’t create the Super Bowl ad, developed by Attik. But Lexus did say Team One handled the overall GS launch.

MAKING TRACKS: After a long search, Hyundai Motor America has hired David Matathia as advertising director. Matathia, who started Jan. 9 in his new job, had worked at ad agency GSD&M as chief strategist. He joins longtime Hyundai staffer Jackie Kim, also an ad director.

MAKING TRACKS II: Julie Roehm, who has been flying solo as a consultant since leaving Walmart and Chrysler Group before that, has landed at biz-software firm SAP as senior VP-marketing.

WEIRDEST BIZ CARD EVER ? Ran into Cameron McNaughton at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. He’s the president of Lincoln’s new WPP ad agency, based in New York. The biggest words on his business card: “The Yet To Be Named Lincoln Agency”

You can follow me, Jean Halliday, on Facebook and LinkedIn.

On Twitter, I’m @jhal2001

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