Porsche test for finalists: Strategy for its first SUV

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Porsche Cars North America has given five finalists for its account a strategic assignment--how to launch the luxury brand's first sport-utility vehicle.

"We asked for no creative. We're looking for very smart strategic planning," explained Joel Ewanick, general marketing manager of Porsche. "We're looking for very strong account management and account planning. We think the agencies we picked can handle the creative."

CONTENDERS

Vying for the $10 million creative and strategic assignments are Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis; Richards Group, Dallas; Leagas Delaney, San Francisco; WestWayne, Atlanta; and Kowloon Wholesale Seafood Co., Santa Monica.

Mr. Ewanick said Porsche will pick an agency immediately after two days of presentations that end on Feb. 9.

The German luxury sports car importer quietly invited 25 agencies to participate earlier this year, Mr. Ewanick said. Two of the finalists didn't send credentials to Porsche after it announced in January its split from Goodby Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, after a five-year run. He declined to name the two shops.

Carmichael Lynch seems to be the only shop that has had no prior ties to the car marketer.

"We are very intrigued by the work [Carmichael Lynch has] done for Harley-Davidson, which parallels what we are trying to accomplish here," said Mr. Ewanick.

NOT ENTIRELY A SURPRISE

The finalists are not entirely a surprise; earlier reports had said the company was looking at shops it knew and with which it had worked on projects. Richards Group was a finalist in the 1993 review when Goodby was tapped. The agency may seek outside resources for the new pitch; Mr. Ewanick said the shop may turn to Grant, Scott & Hurley, San Francisco, formed last fall by a trio of former Goodby staffers. One of the new shop's founders is Grant Richards, son of Stan Richards, principal and creative director of the Dallas contender.

Kowloon Wholesale Seafood, known for its Jack In The Box work, did project work for Porsche over the summer.

SULLIVAN HAS PORSCHE EXPERIENCE

Porsche also knows Luke Sullivan, chief creative officer at WestWayne, Atlanta and Tampa. He had been a senior copywriter at Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, before joining WestWayne last summer. He had worked on Porsche's account before the client split with that agency in January 1993.

Leagas is Porsche's agency of record in the U.K.

Although not a finalist, Austin Kelley Advertising, Atlanta, which has done various projects for Porsche since the marketer moved its headquarters from Reno, Nev., this spring, will continue to do some design work.

The agency review panel will include a Porsche dealer and staffers from Porsche AG, its German parent.

Copyright November 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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