Honda draws shortlist for southern Europe account

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PARIS--Japanese auto marketer Honda is holding a pitch for its southern European advertising account, covering France, Italy and Spain.

Pitching are: incumbent agency Client First, Paris; Grey, Paris; a four-member consortium headed by The Leith Agency, Edinburgh (the other consortium members are Havas Advertising-controlled AilleursExactement, Paris; Ata de Martini, Milan, which belongs to Havas' second network, Campus; and a Spanish partner still to be selected). A fourth agency for the review is to be named by the end of April.

The winning agency, to be selected by early-July, will be responsible for all Honda advertising across the southern European division, according to Tito Schiafino, marketing manager for Honda in Paris. Honda declined to state its annual advertising spend in the region, but Mr.Schiafino suggested the figure will grow exponentially in the coming two years due to several new vehicle launches planned for year-end.

The Leith Agency-led group is tipped to have the upper hand in the pitch as the Edinburgh-based agency managed the pan-European launch of the HRV, a sports utility vehicle Honda put on the market last year.

Honda restructured its European branch into three autonomous divisions in October 1999: one for the U.K.; a second for southern Europe and a third northern European division managed from Germany and including sales operations in Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Honda is seeking to raise its market share of just over 1%, whichtrails behind those of Japanese competitors Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Co. and pales when compared to market share of European or NorthAmerican competitors.

Honda's northern European division is also likely to review its advertising agency, according to industry analysts.

Copyright April 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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