Volkswagen reviews European ad account – well that’s what it seems to be doing

But you never can tell these days.

VW is inviting agencies, including some in the UK, to pitch for a place on its roster, mainly though not apparently exclusively occupied by Omnicom’s DDB. We’re assuming that it’s only reviewing the VW brand, not the zillions of others it owns including Audi and Skoda, handled by Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Fallon respectively.

Even more strangely the initial comment on the pitch has come from Stephen Woodford, boss of DDB London, who told Campaign:””VW is looking to expand its agency roster to include agencies to potentially work on specific international projects, but this is not a threat to DDB’s global position.”

Well it could be just a tiny threat Steve. Deutsch, for example, handles VW in the US, not DDB.

VW seems to be following in the footsteps of other big clients including Sony who like to cherrypick an agency from a large pool for each big new initiative. In the car market General Motors in Europe has been doing this for years with its Vauxhall and Opel brands.

Being the so-called incumbent is maybe an advantage, ie you get to pitch each time, but hardly a guarantee of work.

DDB has a long and distinguished record on VW dating to the great Bill Bernbach and the famous Beetle ‘lemon’ ad from the early 1960s while the company itself is going gang busters, having to shut its Wolfsburg factory one day last week because it was turning out so many cars it had run out of engines.

But like all car manufacturers these days it’s trying to be faster and sexier as well as more fuel-efficient with its Blue Motion engines. Its current line, if that’s what it is, ‘Das Auto’ doesn’t really cut it. Everyone knows they’re German cars.

So there’s a big opportunity here for a lucky agency or two. Just so long as they don’t assume they’ve got the business for ever.

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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.
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