German bosses at Jaguar sack Euro RSCG for new in-house agency Spark 44

What is it about German managers and car advertising? They just don’t seem to get it even though the Germans are the seeming masters of car marketing in the sense that they sell more premium-priced products than anyone else.

That’s just the bloody engineering they’ll be muttering at Euro RSCG as it’s about to lose the $100m global Jaguar account to new in-house agency Spark 44.

Last year Jaguar owner Indian billionaire Rajan Tata installed a new team at Tata Motors (which also owns Land Rover) headed by German Carl-Peter Forster. In turn he brought in BMW veteran Dr Ralph Speth (pictured) to run Jaguar and the end result is the defenestration of Euro and the birth of Spark.

Tata paid $2.3bn for Jaguar and Land Rover to Ford back in 2008, a deal which looked a complete kipper as the credit crunch struck and people stopped buying pricey motors. But the company has since bounced back strongly on the back of Jaguar’s widely-praised XF and XJ models. Land Rover’s fortunes have recovered too and it’s in the process of launching its ‘baby’ Range Rover the Evoque.

Much of this was achieved through the sensible management of Brit David Smith but he’s now gone to be replaced by Forster and Speth, who was parachuted in to Land Rover when it was owned by BMW and stayed on when it was sold to Ford’s Premier Automotive Group (since wound up).

Many people would argue that Jaguar has never received the advertising it merits and maybe Seth has just tired of that and thinks he can do better himself.

It’s all rather reminiscent of failed British car group Rover, once owned by BMW too, which backed the set up of an agency by its former market head Kevin Morley back in the 1990s.

But the trouble with such arrangements is that the client-owned agency, not unnaturally, produces advertising designed to please the client. Customers tend to come a distant second.

BMW-ites, in particular, don’t seem to get advertising as they ditched UK agency WCRS’s formidable ‘the ultimate driving machine’ campaign for US agency GSD&M Idea City’s ‘joy’ campaign which just seemed too lightweight for such a hard-edged auto brand.

Goodness knows what Spark 44 will come up with.

And can it be worth all the hassle of setting up a whole new agency when you can just take the account up the road?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.