Volvo Creates a 'Team' to Handle Its Advertising

Integrated Shop Will Include Resources From Arnold, Euro RSCG 4D, SapientNitro; Media to Remain Separate

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Two weeks after its ownership changed hands from U.S. car giant Ford to Chinese powerhouse Geely Corp., Volvo is restructuring its ad agency relationships to mimic what other global auto manufacturers have: a dedicated unit to serve its marketing needs.

As much as such structures are continuing to generate interest among car makers, their names are hardly becoming more creative. Ford has Team Detroit, Lexus has Team One, Mazda has Team Mazda, and now Volvo has -- you guessed it -- Team Volvo.

Team Volvo will be an integrated unit consisting of creative resources from Havas' Arnold and Euro RSCG 4D, as well as SapientNitro. Media-buying duties, which are handled by Havas' MPG in the U.S. and WPP's Mindshare in Europe, China and elsewhere, won't be part of the new setup.

Team Volvo will be based in Amsterdam, where it will have 30 people, but it will also have offices in Boston and China. Initially it will work out of Euro RSCG 4D's offices in Amsterdam, but Volvo is in negotiations for a new space.

Jorian Murray, founding partner of Dye Holloway Murray and the former managing director of DDB London, has been recruited to serve as global brand director at Team Volvo, overseeing communications for the car brand across three regional hubs, North America, China and Europe. Mr. Murray is best known for his work on Volkswagen from the early '90s through 2007 -- something which is likely appreciated by Stefan Jacoby, the former head of Volkswagen of America who this summer defected to Volvo to serve as its CEO.

Sven De Smet, director of global marketing communications at Volvo Car Corp., said the company believes a special unit to handle its advertising would afford more integration than separate agencies. "From day one, we put a lot of emphasis on trying to get as global as possible, and as deeply integrated as possible, across different media and executions," he said. With Team Volvo, the car maker hopes to have a "true full-service, integrated campaign machine."

Volvo chose Amsterdam as the location for the unit because the city is situated in the same time zone as Volvo's corporate headquarters in Sweden, Mr. De Smet noted, adding that Amsterdam boasts a "cosmopolitan culture and as diverse talent as you need."

He acknowledged that Volvo's time under the Ford banner over the last decade has influenced its view of agency structures dedicated to one client's needs, such as Team Detroit for Ford.

"I think we have taken out some really good learnings, and one of them is that it's easy and a no-brainer to focus on your global hub, but also to make sure that your biggest regions [have oversight]."

Where Team Volvo differs from similar structures is that it's not an entity sitting under a single holding company, but instead combines agencies from two rival entities, something Mr. De Smet said was intentional. "I like a little bit of healthy competition."

Team Volvo, at least for now, also appears focused solely on serving the automaker's needs, unlike Lexus' Team One, which does have other clients, and Team Detroit, which is increasingly trying to diversify itself too. Team Volvo is also likely to be a smaller entity compared to Mazda's 100 or so.

"At the end of the day, an agency is about the people. ... There is not more or less risk to put them physically together," he said, adding that the success of Team Volvo will equally depend on the company. "My expectation is that it pushes you as a client. ... You have to be damn sure who you want to reach and how you want to reach [them]," said Mr. De Smet. "We are a Swedish brand, and collaboration and cooperation is very rooted in the Swedish culture."

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