Will £25m Honda CR-V launch give Mcgarrybowen lift-off in Europe?

Well it’s not a bad start for the all-conquering Dentsu-owned US agency which has taken over from the moribund Dentsu UK in London.

Honda’s new CR-V (compact SUV or crossover depending on your taste) is crucial to establishing the Japanese-owned carmaker’s market presence in Europe and it seems odd that the company has chosen to depart Wieden+Kennedy London (for now anyway) for the launch. W+K has produced a number of heavily-awarded ads (like ‘Grrr’ above) for Honda although, crucially, some years ago now.

The reason seems to be Honda’s sporadic adspend rather than any shortcomings at W+K although it’s interesting that the car company (which still maintains that W+K is its agency of record) chose to go through the whole rigmarole of a full-on pitch for this pan-European CR-V task, even hiring matchmakers Oystercatchers to do it.

And that newcomer (to Europe) Mcgarrybowen found itself on the list in the first place, let alone won the account. Presumably the Japanese connection between Honda and Dentsu helped.

Mcgarrybowen, which could hardly be more different from W+K in style and approach, being an old-style Madison Avenue agency in the US, certainly won’t be relinquishing Honda lightly for all W+K’s supposed incumbent status. On past spending performance Honda is hardly big enough to keep two such agencies happy.

So will Honda launch Mcgarrybowen in Europe? It’ll be a high-profile task for sure with industry wiseacres (no comments please) eager to see what it comes up with and how it differs from what W+K might have produced.

But the real test, assuming it cracks this one, is whether or not it can persuade Honda, which seems to have suffered far more from tsunami-induced supply chain problems than its Japanese rivals, to become a regular and heavyweight advertiser.

As for W+K London, parent agency W+K Portland handles Fiat-owned Chrysler for whom it’s produced high-profile campaigns starring Eminem and Clint Eastwood among others. It would be odd if London boss Neil Christie isn’t giving this useful connection some thought just now.

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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.