Carmichael Lynch adds Porsche to its garage

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In company with such prestigious brands as Harley-Davidson and Chris-Craft, Porsche should feel right at home on Carmichael-Lynch's client roster.

The Minneapolis agency late last week nabbed the coveted $10 million to $15 million account of Porsche Cars North America.

A Porsche executive pointed to Carmichael's effective, award-winning niche communications programs for Harley-Davidson as one of the reasons the agency prevailed in the long review.

HANDLING MULTIPLE DISCIPLINES

"You will see heavier emphasis on our enthusiasts and owners vs. looking for a broader ring" of consumers, said Richard Ford, Porsche chief operating officer.

He also praised Carmichael's ability to handle multiple marketing disciplines, particularly the agency's strong relationship marketing, which he said Porsche needs as it builds up its Internet presence and dealer network.

Jack Supple, president of Carmichael-Lynch, said the agency was celebrating Friday with German beer and food. He said Porsche executives will be visiting the agency this week to begin planning future work.

The four other finalists for the creative-only assignment were WestWayne, Atlanta; Leagas Delaney, San Francisco; Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co., Santa Monica, Calif.; and Richards Group, Dallas. Creative Media, New York, will continue to handle media buying.

DECISION TOOK A YEAR

Previous agency of five years Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, declined to participate in the review.

Porsche spent a year, including stops and starts, choosing an agency after parting ways with Goodby in January 1998. The car importer handled the review quietly and internally after being inundated with more than 150 proposals after the separation became known.

The agency search by the German luxury sports car company was put on hold last spring when it relocated its North American headquarters from Reno, Nev., to Atlanta. Then, a little over a month ago, Porsche's general manager of marketing, Joel Ewanick, left the company--just before final agency pitches were heard.

PONDERED SUV LAUNCH

A panel of seven to nine executives, including a Porsche dealer and staffers from parent Porsche AG, heard presentations last week. The finalists had been given a strategic assignment of how to launch Porsche's first sport-utility vehicle, due to arrive in 2002. The launch is expected to be a key part of the assignment.

Porsche has been on a sales upswing in recent years after a low sales year of just 3,700 cars sold in 1996. In 1998, the company sold 17,500 cars and is expected to top more than 20,000 this year.

Copyright February 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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