Vauxhall hands McCann £20m OnStar business

Vauxhall has handed McCann-Erickson the £20m creative launch account for the GM OnStar vehicle communications system.

But in a blow to McCann’s media agency Universal McCann, the car giant has given the media buying to its sister IPG agency Western International Media.

OnStar is an in-car satellite-linked navigational system and hands-free mobile phone, which connects to a call centre. Users can ask the system for directions and book hotels and restaurants. It also offers voice-activated Internet access and in-car entertainment.

Alex Butler, head of marketing and communications for the GM Onstar system says: “McCann-Erickson has been appointed to support the UK launch of GM OnStar. The system already exists in the US and German markets and McCann was appointed because of its ability to work across different markets.”

McCann is understood to have been appointed by Andy Jones, Vauxhall’s former marketing operations director who became head of OnStar earlier this month (MW August 3). Jones was unavailable for comment. Butler confirms there was a competitive pitch for the account, but refuses to name the agencies involved.

OnStar was launched in the US four years ago by General Motors, and Vauxhall is planning to launch it in the UK this autumn, although one source indicates it may be delayed until the new year.

But the source adds: “The longer it is out of the market, the more likely others will beat it to market with a rival launch.” He says OnStar will eventually face competition from third-generation mobile phones.

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