Audi taps McKinney for Euro car launch

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Havas' McKinney & Silver, Raleigh, N.C., was selected over five overseas agencies for a TV spot to launch Audi's all-new 2003 A4 Cabriolet convertible in Europe.

A panel of executives from the German automaker invited McKinney, the agency of record for Audi of America, along with its European agencies to pitch for the assignment. The U.S. agency bested Bcom3-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London; Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Frankfurt, and three Omnicom Group shops-Tandem DDB, Barcelona; Verba DDB, Milan and Louis XIV, Paris.

Audi likes the competitive arrangement because "we are not dependent on a single [agency] network," said Hans-Christian Schwingen, who oversees advertising globally as head of marketing communications at Audi AG. It helps create a global brand positioning all the agencies can understand, he added.

McKinney's work, a sole TV spot, will run in Germany through the summer. Each country is responsible for media. In Germany, duties are handled by Grey Global Group's MediaCom, Munich and Dusseldorf. Tandem DDB is handling creative for the print portion. Both the TV and print will run in 18 countries.

Brad Brinegar, president-CEO of McKinney, said the win "is particularly sweet" since it's the first time the agency has participated in a pitch for Audi outside the U.S. McKinney has no clients based outside the U.S., but Mr. Brinegar said he doesn't believe the agency's prior independent status hurt its potential overseas. Since Havas acquired McKinney in April 2001, the agency hasn't used many of its parent's resources for Audi, although the shop is glad to know those services are available if needed, he added.

bestseller

The A4 is Audi's best-selling model globally. Audi AG, a unit of Volkswagen AG, said it produced a record 309,000 A4s last year. The same is true in the U.S., where the marketer said 35,739 of the record 83,283 cars it sold here in 2001 were A4s.

The :45, shot in Monterey, Calif., shows a man driving the convertible along a steep seaside road on his way to a farmhouse. There he presents a jar he's filled with ocean air to his grandfather, who we learn has other aromatic jars from his grandson on a stack of shelves. "More life in your life," the on-screen words say in German before the tag "Advancement through technology."

When asked what the work meant in terms of billings, Mr. Brinegar would only say McKinney was paid for creative development as part of its fee-based contract with the automaker.

Audi spent $84 million in measured media in the U.S. last year vs. $70 million in 2000, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Audi spent $19 million in the first quarter of 2002, CMR figures show.

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