Volvo Narrows Creative Review to Four

Incumbent Euro RSCG Still in Running; No WPP Agencies Remain

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Nearly two months after putting its global creative account in review, Sweden's Volvo Car Corp. has narrowed its list of prospective agencies to four. Not one of the remaining agencies is owned by WPP Group, the holding company that handles the lion's share of advertising for Volvo's parent, Ford Motor Co.
Volvo spent $65 million in measured media in North America in the first nine months of 2006 and $71 million in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Volvo spent $65 million in measured media in North America in the first nine months of 2006 and $71 million in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Incumbent Euro RSCG, part of Havas, remains in the race; others still involved include Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston, paired with independent Nitro, London; Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis and London; and Omnicom Group's 180, Amsterdam, said Hans Krondahl, exec VP-marketing, Volvo Cars of North America.

WWP Group's Ogilvy & Mather was cut, as were independents M&C Saatchi and Strawberry Frog.

'Emphasis on growing China fast'
"It's a global account with an emphasis on growing China fast," said one executive familiar with the review. "I think all the agencies in this have to have an organization either now or through a network ready to go in China ASAP."

Volvo's global advertising director, Tim Ellis, in December emphasized his desire for "a strong international creative partner able to offer solid creative solutions in both the U.S. and Europe, as well as other key markets in Asia and throughout the world."

The automaker spent $65 million in measured media in North America in the first nine months of 2006 and $71 million in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Volvo will brief the contenders in a two-day session next week, Mr. Krondahl said, and presentations will be given at the end of March. A decision is expected in April.

Incumbent since 1991
Euro RSCG has handled the creative account in the U.S. since 1991. The agency has a small office in Irvine, Calif., near Volvo's U.S. headquarters, but the bulk of the business is conducted out of its New York office. The agency formed Fuel North America after its 1998 win of Volvo's lucrative U.S. regional dealer account, and landed portions of Volvo Car Corp.'s estimated $150 million global account in 2000, which is handled out of a Fuel office in London.

Volvo doesn't work with any Euro RSCG offices in Europe other than London because of a conflict with French automaker Peugeot. Euro is Peugeot's agency in more than 24 countries.

Roth Associates, a New York City consultancy, is conducting the review.

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Brooke Capps contributed to this report.