Italy's Armando Testa Wins Pitch For Fiat's Digital Business In Europe

Independent Shop Will Open Hubs in Nine Countries to Handle Account

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Fiat Group is restructuring its digital marketing in Europe and hiring Italy's biggest agency, independent Armando Testa, to coordinate European digital work for all of its car brands -- Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Jeep.

Maurizio Spagnulo, Fiat Group
Maurizio Spagnulo, Fiat Group

Armando Testa, which won the business after a pitch against seven agencies whose names were not made public, will open hubs in nine European countries to service the business. Offices in the U.K., Germany and Belgium will open in November, with offices in countries including France, Spain, Netherlands and Denmark starting in January 2013.

Fiat is the world's 16th-biggest advertiser, spending $1.8 billion in 2011, according to the Ad Age DataCenter's ranking of the top 100 global marketers. About one-third of that -- $610 million -- was spent in Europe. Based on those figures, a 20% share of the ad budget for digital would be about $120 million.

Fiat Group previously used a number of different agencies in each country, with separate agencies working on individual brands and, in some cases, more than one digital agency working on a brand in a single country.

Maurizio Spagnulo, media and digital-marketing director at Fiat Group Automobiles and marketing communications director of Alfa Romeo, said, "Digital is now one of our most important investments -- it accounts for 20% of our budget, and this will increase in 2013. We were duplicating so much in terms of cost. We wanted to have everything done by the same network."

Although Testa has won Fiat's digital business for Europe, the original creative idea for the work will be the responsibility of the existing lead agencies on each brand -- Publicis Groupe 's Leo Burnett/Arc together with independent agency Domino for Fiat; Armando Testa for Lancia; and independents Fullsix and Xister for Alfa Romeo and Jeep, respectively.

The lead agencies will then pass the creative work to the Armando Testa hub in Turin -- the headquarters of Fiat Group -- and that office will co-ordinate major campaigns across Europe, with the local offices adapting work for each country. When specific local campaigns are called for, they will be created in the relevant country with help from the Turin base when necessary.

Mr. Spagnulo said, "Now we will have more control over the creative work and stricter direction of the content of sites -- it will be very structured and very fluent between the countries and the hub. When we pitched, we said to agencies that we needed more effective organization at a lower level of cost. We also wanted a higher standard in terms of local comprehension of needs in single countries."

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