Audi Taps Brooklyn-based Huge to Handle Social Media Efforts

Shop Tasked with Creating Original Content, Overseeing Car Brand's Presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook

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Audi has selected Huge to handle social media following a pitch.

"Huge demonstrated outstanding creativity, strategic thinking, technical expertise, integrated capabilities and a solid understanding of our mission," said Drew Elliott, a social media specialist at Audi of America. He noted the agency will be responsible for supporting the Volkswagen -owned luxury auto brand's long-term goal to "connect consumers in bold new ways and break through the traditional approach to social media platforms."

For the day-to-day scope of work, the Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned agency will focus on improving the brand's community network, content generation and internal processes, he added. The shop will support all of the brand's social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

It helps that Audi already has a reputation as a marketer who "gets" social media; as Twitter's president of global revenue remarked at the 4A's conference earlier this year, the carmaker has built a unique bridge between social media and TV, being an early adopter of using hashtags in TV ads.

The move means a shift from incumbent M80, the social media agency that sits within WPP media agency network Group M. The agency could not be reached for comment by press time.

According to the Ad Age DataCenter , Audi spent $148.2 million on U.S. measured media in 2011 -- the last full year of available spending figures. The number represents an 80.4% boost in spending over 2010. Parent Volkswagen spent $362 million on measured media and $729.6 million on total advertising and promotions at the time.

Brooklyn-based Huge is the 36th largest digital agency network according to the DataCenter .

While Huge takes on the social media account, WPP-owned AKQA will continue to lead digital for the brand, said Mr. Elliott. AKQA has been Audi's digital AOR since 2011. Ad Age reported at the time that the shop was tasked with developing technology for Audi that went beyond banners and websites, such as internet-enabled applications for cars.

Other shops on Audi's roster include: independent Venables Bell & Partners (creative), WPP's MediaCom (media) and Interpublic's PMK-BNC (PR).

Huge -- which in the past has done digital strategy and design work for Toyota and Saab -- has not worked directly with Audi in the recent past. The shop's first project for the brand was for an Audi-Marvel partnership promoting Iron Man 3. Through an online platform, Marvel and Audi invited readers to vote for alternative chapter endings in an Iron Man comic series, as well as compete to create the final chapter. The comic panels incorporate the Audi product.

Separately, the brand's latest online ad features Leonard Nimoy, who first played Star Trek's Mr. Spock in 1966, and Zachary Quinto, who started playing the half-Vulcan in the 2009 movie update to the series and stars in the role in the upcoming version. The actors decide to meet at the golf course to hit a few balls (Mr. Nimoy in a Mercedes and Mr. Quinto in an Audi) and they bet on who will arrive first. The Audi wins the race to the parking lot, but out of their cars Mr. Quinto underestimates his predecessor.

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