Deutsch loses U.S. VW account amid global review

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An attendee takes a photograph of the I.D. Vizzion electric vehicle, manufactured by Volkswagen AG, ahead of the 88th Geneva International Motor Show..
An attendee takes a photograph of the I.D. Vizzion electric vehicle, manufactured by Volkswagen AG, ahead of the 88th Geneva International Motor Show.. Credit: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Interpublic's Deutsch has lost the Volkswagen creative account in the U.S. as the automaker nears the end of its global agency review, according to people familiar with the matter.

WPP, Publicis Groupe and Omnicom have all pitched for the business, which was put into review in April. Deutsch, which had held the U.S. business since 2009, was only gunning for the North American portion of the account. The shop's elimination could signal that VW wants to consolidate larger portions of its business with one or two holding companies.

Omnicom's DDB already handles major portions of the VW business in Europe and Canada.

WPP's involvement is notable because the holding company has traditionally observed an exclusivity arrangement with Ford, meaning that it must get the automaker's approval to pitch other automotive accounts. The arrangement includes agencies and their subsidiaries that were part of the multiagency dedicated Ford entity called Team Detroit that was formed in 2006, including JWT, Ogilvy Y&R, Wunderman and Mindshare.

With Ford now undergoing its own creative agency review, however, that exclusivity arrangement is expected to go away, according to a person familiar with the matter. WPP, whose Ford-dedicated shop was rebranded to Global Team Blue in 2016, is fending off a challenge from Wieden & Kennedy and Omnicom's BBDO in the Ford review.

Deutsch ran its VW account from Los Angeles. The shop weathered multiple CMO changes at VW, as well fallout from the emissions cheating scandal that broke in 2015 and lead to major organizational changes at the company. Deutsch was behind several notable creative efforts, including the widely praised 2011 Super Bowl ad, "The Force."

Representatives from Deutsch and VW did not respond to requests for comment.

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