NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Audi of America today said it named AKQA its digital agency of record.
The review of the digital business began last summer and included as many as 18 shops, including the incumbent digital agency, Denver-based independent Factory Design Labs, according to executives familiar with the process.
The new account signals Audi parent Volkswagen Group's affinity for San Francisco-based AKQA. The independent shop was named U.S. mobile agency of record for sibling Volkswagen of America in 2009 and has been since growing its relationship with Volkswagen globally out of the agency's Berlin office. While the agency has no relationships at the group level, Volkswagen Group chief marketer Luca de Meo came from the top marketing post at Fiat in 2009, after AKQA created the much-awarded driving application for Fiat, dubbed "Eco:Drive."
San Francisco is now the creative hub for the automaker; Audi will be handled out of AKQA's office in that city, a short drive from Audi's creative agency of record, Venables Bell & Partners, which was unaffected by the review.
Audi is slated to make its fourth consecutive appearance in the Super Bowl next month, during the first ad break. That placement in the big game will put its commercial ahead of many of the other automakers, including General Motors, BMW and Hyundai, that have all opted to rush the broadcast.
In online media alone, Audi spent more than $11 million during the first 11 months of 2010. Like it has for past auto accounts, AKQA is expected to develop technology for Audi beyond banners and websites, such as internet-enabled applications for cars like Fiat Eco:Drive.
Audi sold more than 1 million cars globally in 2010, a record for the brand. The company attributes that success to strong sales in the U.S., where it sold more than 100,000 cars for the first time.