GM won’t cut more of its sports sponsorships

/ Source: The Associated Press

General Motors Corp.’s top U.S. marketing executive said Monday he does not foresee further big cuts in the automaker’s sports sponsorships as it balances a cash shortage with the need to market its products.

Mark LaNeve, vice president for North American marketing, said GM is still looking at every penny of its advertising budget as it tries to cut expenses and prove it is viable in order to keep $13.4 billion in government loans.

“I don’t have any big announcements,” LaNeve said in an interview at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

GM, which bought airtime during the Super Bowl for about a decade, is pulling out as part of a restructuring plan that was in place even before the automaker requested the federal money.

Last month, GM’s Buick brand said it was concluding its marketing contract with Tiger Woods one year early. That contract was valued at $7 million per year.

The company also cut some NASCAR spending and decided against airing ads during last fall’s Emmy Awards and the Academy Awards. It also has canceled local sponsorships of teams including the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates, but its broader contract with Major League Baseball runs through 2010.

LaNeve said GM now is looking at its advertising efforts with local dealership groups for possible cuts.

“We’re battening down the hatches on a lot of the local promotions and team sponsorships,” he said. “If the local media group had a big media buy with the local NFL team that usually we were the sponsor of that team, we’re backing off not all of it but a lot of it.”

LaNeve said he is still comfortable with GM’s ad spending, although he’d like to have a bigger budget.

“When your existence is threatened away like ours has been, your survival, you get real focused real fast on spending every penny to drive revenue and create awareness and consideration for the brands,” he said.