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GM's new Chairman Whitacre to be featured in TV ad campaign

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GM's new Chairman Whitacre to be featured in TV ad campaign



SEPTEMBER 9, 2009 - 5:29 PM ET

DETROIT -- General Motors Co. will launch a broad post-bankruptcy advertising campaign next week with an introductory TV spot featuring new Chairman Ed Whitacre, sources familiar with the plan said.

The ad is expected to last 60 seconds and was created by the ad agency McCann-Erickson Worldwide. The spot will set up a wider TV campaign featuring commercials about each of GM's four surviving brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

The idea is to showcase GM's best products, with Whitacre urging consumers to take a look at what the automaker has to offer.

The ads may reflect a slight departure from Bob Lutz's plan for GM's marketing strategy. When Lutz, 77, took over as marketing chief in July, he said GM would focus on its brands and not the corporation.

Whitacre, 67, the former CEO of AT&T Corp., came to GM with no auto industry experience. He was installed as chairman during GM's U.S.-orchestrated bankruptcy in June to safeguard the government's investment in the automaker.

GM's research showed that consumers now want to know that the new GM is a different company from the one in bankruptcy, two of the sources said. Whitacre is enough of an outsider to be viewed as representing the taxpayer, one of those sources said.

GM spokesman Chris Preuss declined to comment on the campaign or Whitacre's involvement.

After the Whitacre spot, GM will air ads featuring each division. The Chevy campaign, for instance, is said to include former pro football player and announcer Howie Long, who will tout Chevrolet's fuel leadership over competitors' vehicles in certain segments.

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