New blow for Havas as Volvo switches to Grey London

It’s not been a good couple of weeks for Havas CEO David Jones with Havas in the UK losing the big Santander banking account to WCRS and now the rather larger global Volvo account shipping out from Havas network Arnold to Grey. Grey London will be the lead agency on the account, probably under the nom de plume Team Volvo or something.

2003_volvo_xc90_t6_awd-pic-59372The review apparently focussed on the launch of the next Volvo XC90 set for next year. Volvo has been struggling in recent times as an independent company since being cast adrift by Ford’s Premier Automotive Group but the, now venerable, XC90, a big 4×4, has kept its end up remarkably well against the likes of BMW, Land-Rover, Mercedes and Lexus. 4x4s, unlike Volvo’s saloons, are remarkably profitable.

Volvo is now owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and, as such, must have been open to a big sell by Grey owner WPP. WPP has the strongest presence of any of the Western marcoms companies in China, where Volvo is selling well.

Forsman & Bodenfors is keeping the business in Scandinavia but WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell must be doing a quiet jig; managing to drop Volvo into the empire, whose biggest client is Ford, is quite an achievement.

And we shouldn’t overlook Grey London, of course. Grey New York has been the all-conquering outpost over the past few years but Grey London has produced lots of good work too without (until now) winning the biggies its efforts have maybe deserved. It won News Corporation in an internal WPP pitch but that’s a poisoned chalice, if ever there was one.

Apparently Havas/Arnold wheeled in network agency BETC London, a formidable operation, to help with the pitch but to no avail. If Havas is to cling on to the coat tails of the big global players it needs to start winning some of these pitches soon.

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About Stephen Foster

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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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    Never forget that David Jones is the genius who shelled out $3 million for crowd-sourcing disaster agency, Victors & Spoils, who’s biggest client, Harley Davidson immediately left when they realized they didn’t need to pay an agency to crowd-source when they could do it themselves. Mr. Jones should get back to looking after his locker.
    Cheers/George