Volkswagen 's Audi brand is in the final stages of a public-relations agency review in the U.S.
An Audi spokesman told Ad Age that incumbent PMK-BNC, which is known for its entertainment-oriented accounts, is involved in the review. He declined to provide further information. PMK-BNC was not immediately available to comment, but the shop is surely pulling out all the stops in the hopes of retaining the carmaker's business.
Audi had long worked with the agency's predecessor, Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned PMK-HBH, on PR duties. In January 2010, PMK-HBH merged with sister shop BNC to form PMK-BNC and create one of the largest entertainment PR shops in the U.S.
Audi represents one of the firm's consumer brands in a portfolio largely representing celebrities and entertainment accounts. Besides Audi, the consumer brand portfolio includes Activision and German beauty company Beiersdorf.
The PR review is one of several that Audi and its parent, Volkswagen , have undertaken in the past year in a search for fresh thinking.
Early this year, Audi reviewed its digital account and moved the work from incumbent Factory Design Labs to AKQA http://adage.com/article/agency-news/audi-names-akqa-digital-agency-record/148545/, following a review that marked the end of a contract. Audi sister brand Volkswagen conducted a PR review around the same time, shifting the account from incumbent MWW to Edelman. PR giant Edelman also won the social media business after a separate review.
The agency that wins the Audi PR business won't have to worry about turning around sluggish sales. Earlier this month, Audi said it expects its 2011 vehicle sales to hit 1.3 million -- a record with growth in most global markets, according to Automotive News. Also, for the month of October the Volkswagen brand -- which was named to Ad Age 's Marketer A-List this week -- posted the industry's highest sales growth in the U.S., up 40%.