GM wraps agency roster revamp by picking FleishmanHillard as overall brand AOR

The automaker picked the Omnicom Group agency last week, following an RFP process in which five firms pitched for the business.

GM's Renaissance Center headquarters. (Image via Wikimedia Commons, by paul (dex) bica from Toronto, Canada).
GM's Renaissance Center headquarters. (Image via Wikimedia Commons, by paul (dex) bica from Toronto, Canada).

DETROIT: General Motors has selected FleishmanHillard as its first communications AOR for its overall brand in the U.S., wrapping up the series of high-profile briefs that revamped the automaker’s agency roster this year.

GM chose the agency last week, following a competitive RFP process that began in late October. Five firms pitched for the account, on which work will begin in mid-January.

"We went through a competitive process, looking for a shop that could handle our scale and scope and the challenges and opportunities we have," said Joanne Krell, executive director of corporate comms at General Motors. "We were thinking about how they would address our challenges, how they’d think about our corporate brand health and our reputation, and where they could work alongside us to really make a game-changing difference for GM."

Several firms, including Fleishman, MSLGroup, and Weber Shandwick, previously handled the work Fleishman will be solely responsible for starting next month.

The agency will handle corporate comms and communications about global product development and advanced technology. The firm will also support GM on content, message development, and internal and policy communications, as well as working closely with the brand’s internal team on storytelling, crisis and reputation management, and brand building.

The contract is set to run for three years. Although the assignment is U.S.-focused to start, its responsibilities could expand globally. Budget information was not disclosed.

"We are beyond thrilled to be selected as their strategic partner to help bring about such positive, transformative change with disciplined execution," said FleishmanHillard CEO John Saunders, via email. "We believe that, together, we can help demonstrate GM’s vision, expertise, and drive for the future."

The automaker’s third-quarter net income more than doubled to $2.8 billion, compared with a year earlier, and its revenue in the period rose 10% to a record $42.8 billion, easily beating analysts’ expectations. The automaker said earlier this week that it plans to lay off 1,600 workers at three factories in Michigan and Delaware as it attempts to cap its inventory, according to ABC News.

The win concluded a global PR agency review General Motors has conducted across all its brands over the past year. In September, Buick and GMC selected M Booth as PR AOR, and Chevrolet picked Weber Shandwick for the same role three months earlier. Chevy did not previously have an AOR, though the Interpublic Group firm had been the brand’s lead agency, working with several other shops.

In April, Cadillac brought on Kovert Creative as PR AOR after five agencies pitched for the account, including Fleishman, which had handled influencer relations for the luxury brand.

GM’s goal was to consolidate its roster with one PR AOR per brand, as it has done with other marketing functions. The concentration was driven by a push for efficiency, not just in terms of dollars spent but also the time needed to manage the accounts, GM global communications leader Tony Cervone said last December. Various smaller agencies also support the automaker, mostly on a regional basis.

"We’re such a big place and so comfortable with complexity that we’ve gotten too comfortable managing that," he said at the time. "Every move made a ton of sense when we did it, but there comes a time when you have to step back and say, ‘What have we created here? And is there a better way to do it?’"

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