General Motors recently moved the local portion of its Chevrolet media business from Dentsu’s Carat to Publicis-owned Martin Retail Group, a spokesperson confirmed today.
Chevy is the company’s best-selling brand by a significant margin, and Martin will now handle media planning and buying duties for the brand’s regional dealers across the United States.
“Yes, we are shifting local media buying from Carat to Martin Retail Group,” said the Chevrolet representative, who declined to elaborate beyond noting that Carat will remain global media agency of record for all GM brands, a position it has held since winning a 2012 review.
Still, the news marks a significant loss for Carat, which won the local marketing association (LMA) portion of the business away from independent agency U.S. International Media in 2017. Recent estimates for total regional Chevrolet dealers in the U.S. hover around 3,000.
Kantar Media has Chevrolet’s tier two and three dealer associations spending a combined $430 million on U.S. paid media in 2017 and $283 million during the first nine months of 2018.
According to multiple parties with knowledge of the business, the move happened two weeks ago without a formal review.
While General Motors did not comment on its overall marketing strategy, the shift further aligns the Chevy LMA media business with that of the company’s other key lines including GMC, Buick and Cadillac. The Martin Retail Group already handled local planning and buying work for those brands.
In 2006, Birmingham, Ala.-based Martin joined forces with IPG’s Jay Advertising to oversee the Buick, Pontiac and GMC dealer business. The agency had already been running Pontiac in partnership with fellow Publicis agency Leo Burnett on creative.
The Martin Retail Group declined to comment, as did corporate representatives at Publicis.
Two parties close to the matter told Adweek that the wave of layoffs that hit McCann Worldgroup this week also affected the Dentsu organization, leading to multiple “high level” departures at Carat, iProspect and Dentsu Detroit. On Feb. 1, General Motors announced that it would eliminate 4,000 white-collar U.S. jobs as part of a larger restructuring effort that has already led to several thousand job cuts and voluntary buyouts.
After this story went live, another source confirmed that Dentsu announced the change to staff on the same day news of GM’s layoffs went live and eliminated more than 50 jobs—including some at the svp and evp levels. Agency 720, the Omnicom-owned specialty shop that works with Chevy LMAs across the country, was reportedly not affected.
Carat and Dentsu declined to comment for this story.