DDB, Wieden & Kennedy Out in Volkswagen Review

Deutsch and Goodby Silverstein Still in the Running for Creative Agency of Record

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Omnicom Group's DDB and independent Wieden & Kennedy have been eliminated from Volkswagen of America's pitch as its new national creative agency of record, leaving the race for one of the most sought-after accounts this year to Omnicom sibling Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, and Deutsch, Los Angeles, part of Interpublic Group of Cos.

Incumbent MDC Partners' Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami, opted not to defend the business. Roth Associates is the consultant. The agencies could not be reached for comment.

As part of the much-watched contest, Deutsch and Wieden pitched Oct. 20 at VW's U.S. headquarters in Virginia, following DDB and Goodby, which presented Oct. 19.

The plan is for VW to call back two agencies to meet with the company's finance officials. One of the contenders said VW dropped a few hints during the presentation that it was looking for a cost-efficient agency. "That's not uncommon these days," he added.

Deutsch has been without an auto dance partner since summer, when General Motors terminated the contract on its Saturn brand, which Deutsch won in early 2007 from Goodby without a review. GM had used Deutsch for key corporate work, as well as Chevrolet motor sports and pro baseball, for a year. Deutsch had also held Mitsubishi's ad account.

After losing Saturn to Deutsch, Goodby rebounded quickly, entering and winning Hyundai Motor of America's review. But the agency was left out in the cold this spring when the client moved the creative account to its in-house global agency. Goodby's prior car experience included the national creative accounts for Porsche and Isuzu.

Its failure to advance is a blow to DDB, which has coveted the U.S. account since it lost VW here in the early 1990s. DDB Worldwide is VW's lead agency in many major global markets, including the client's home market of Germany. It's been a longstanding goal of Keith Reinhard, chairman emeritus of DDB Worldwide, to regain the U.S. business.

Wieden had been seen as the dark horse, as the independent agency hasn't had a U.S. car account since losing Subaru of America in summer 1993 after a little over two years. However, the Portland shop's European operation has won awards and street cred for its Honda car brand work in Europe.

VW VP-Marketing Tim Ellis did not return a call or e-mail for comment at press time. But when he announced the review, he said the brand aims to broaden its reach and be more mainstream to meet its aggressive goal of selling 800,000 new vehicles annually in the U.S. by 2018. The brand sold 223,128 units last year.

~ ~ ~ Contributing: Kunur Patel

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