Under scrutiny is the $94 million assignment for SEAT advertising outside Spain, now at Wilkens International, the former Ayer Europe network. SEAT advertising in Spain, a $62 million assignment, is with an independent Barcelona agency, Casadevall Pedreno & PRG.
Although Volkswagen officials are said to be displeased with Wilkens' work on SEAT, it's believed they are happy with Casa-devall.
It's not clear whether Volkswagen will want to continue to split the account between Spain and the rest of Europe.
A SEAT account move by VW would not be welcome news for Chicago-based holding company True North Communications, which earlier this year bought Wilk-ens. True North is trying to expand Wilkens following the demise of its partnership with Publicis Communication.
Wilkens International's main clients are SEAT and German personal products company Beiersdorf AG.
Earlier this year, Saatchi & Saat-chi Advertising, Frankfurt, nearly wrested the $80 million Volkswagen account in Germany away from DDB Needham Worldwide. After the decision was announced in April, Rolf Dielenschneider, manager for sales research and marketing communications at Volks-wagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg, said: "We were impressed by the work of the Saatchi & Saatchi, Frankfurt, team and had liked working with them."
A spokesperson for SEAT in Barcelona was unaware of any account changes. "We have not heard that there are talks with Saatchi & Saatchi."
RUMORS IN GERMANY
There are rumors in Germany, however, that a SEAT agency decision is being made outside Spain by Volkswagen Chairman Ferdinand Piech and Marketing Director Robert Buchelhofer. Officials were unavailable for comment at Volkswagen's headquarters.
At the Barcelona auto show last month, Detlev Schmidt, SEAT's VP -sales and marketing, told Automotive News Europe that Spain is a priority market for the carmaker. Since 1992, SEAT sales have grown relatively faster in Spain than elsewhere: from 26% of total sales to 32%. Mr. Schmidt attributed the sales increase to new products that appeal to Spanish buyers, a dealer development program and to SEAT's advertising in Spain.
Although Mr. Schmidt gave credit to advertising, he was also proud of its cautious ad spending.
"We spend less per car than the major competitors in Spain,"
A decision on an agency is expected by August.