VOLKSWAGEN NAMES CRISPIN PORTER AGENCY OF RECORD

Crispin Resigns BMW Mini Account

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Volkswagen of America today said it has appointed Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, as its new advertising agency of record for the U.S. and Canada without a review. The agency simultaneously announced it has resigned its account for BMW's Mini USA.
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Crispin has been the Mini's agency of record since 2001.

Ends 10-year relationship
Crispin, part of MDC Partners, will succeed Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston, which won the Volkswagen account a decade ago, effective Dec. 5.

A VW spokesman told AdAge.com the automaker today gave Arnold the 90-day notice required in the agency's contract.

Volkswagen's move is sudden, but not unexpected. When asked in early August how safe Arnold was on VW's account, Len Hunt, executive vice president of VW of America, described it to Advertising Age as "pretty safe."

Today, Ed Eskandarian, CEO of Arnold Worldwide, said, “Arnold and Volkswagen have had a remarkable partnership over the last decade. We redefined great car advertising, created the most recognized tagline, 'Drivers Wanted,' in the automotive industry and more than doubled sales.”

However, car creatives at other shops said Arnold's VW work, once among the most respected auto advertising in the industry, has slipped in recent years.

Kerri Martin
Crispin's appointment follows the April arrival of Kerri Martin to VW in the new position of director of marketing development. Ms. Martin came to VW from Mini, where she had been marketing communications manager.

Ms. Martin, now director of brand innovation, said the change to Crispin Porter shows VW's wish to shake up the communications model. She said the agency is known for its "strong grasp of pop culture and ... non-traditional approach to branding. [The agency has] a stellar track record of building, reviving and marketing iconic brands."

Mr. Hunt in a prepared statement said: “Volkswagen needs to take bold steps to turn this business around in the U.S. and Canada. We’re reviewing all aspects of our operations and with the addition of [Crispin Porter] on our team we’ll now be equipped to maximize our marketing efforts."

Vehicle sales slide
VW of America has seen its vehicle sales slide and is unprofitable in the wake of its unsuccessful move upmarket -- a move engineered by its German parent, Volkswagen AG. The parent has been trying to cut costs and earlier this year pressured its American arm to consolidate media at WPP Group's MediaCom from Havas' MPG.

Crispin Porter worked with Arnold on the “Truth” anti-tobacco campaign for the American Legacy Foundation.

The automaker spent $338 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

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Matthew Creamer contributed to this report.

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