Mr. Ellis will take on the role of VP-marketing for Volkswagen of America. He didn't return calls or e-mails for comment. A Volvo spokeswoman last night said she could "neither confirm nor deny" such a move.
Though his title is new, Mr. Ellis will succeed Kerri Martin, director of brand innovation, departed the automaker in January. Volkswagen works with MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky in the U.S. and Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide elsewhere. Volkswagen spent about $419 million in measured media last year the U.S., according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Mr. Ellis ran the recent account review that ended up with Volvo shifting its global ad business from Havas' Euro RSCG to sibling Arnold and independent Nitro.
In a recent interview, Volkswagen of America President-CEO Stefan Jacoby told Ad Age that the marketer didn't plan to change agencies, though he did say some of the work done under Ms. Martin was too narrow. "We have to address our communications with a wider net," he said.
Since joining Volvo in 2003 from independent Swedish agency Forsman & Bodenfors, Stockholm, where he was a managing partner, Mr. Ellis, an American, has been known for doing more creatively with fewer ad dollars than his competitors.
Mr. Ellis is best known for 2004's "Mystery of Dalaro," a hoax that started with a fake news story about 32 families in a tiny Swedish town all buying the new Volvo 540 model on the same day from the same small dealership. That led to a documentary about the eerie coincidence, which was soon revealed as a fake, by a director who didn't exist. The "Mystery of Dalaro," created by Euro RSCG's Fuel Europe, ran across Europe in TV spots, and at great length on Volvo's website.
Mr. Ellis, and Fuel, followed up with another low-budget, web-oriented effort called "Life on Board." To make Volvo seem warmer and friendlier, they staged a series of conversations pairing interesting people who had never met getting to know each other by chatting in a Volvo.
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Contributing: Laurel Wentz