Droga5 Wins Renault Business Following Toyota Loss in Australia

New Car Account Arrives Quickly After Yaris Exits to Dentsu, Soon to Open in Sydney

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HONG KONG (AdAge.com) -- Renault's ambitious plans for Australia are driving Droga5 back into that country's fast-growing car market. Just two months after losing the briefly held creative business for Toyota's Yaris brand to Dentsu, the independent agency has bounced back by picking up the national marketing duties for Renault in Australia. Ads will break next month.

Founded in January 2008, Droga5 also works with three beer brands owned by Foster's Group -- VB, Crown Lager and Cascade -- as well as News Corp. and Telstra. The agency won Toyota's Yaris account last year, but lost it several months later when Dentsu, a major Toyota agency that has been absent from the Australian market for years, decided to re-enter the county in 2011.

The Toyota loss "was out of our control," said Droga5's creative chairman, David Nobay, in Sydney. "It would be too convenient to say that stepping aside from Toyota was serendipity," but the creative and strategic opportunities presented by Renault, he said, "far exceed anything offered to us as part of a joint roster on Toyota. Here we have a real chance to genuinely impact the footprint of a brand at every stage in its contact with the consumer."

In most countries, Renault is handled by Publicis, and the car maker works with TBWA, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Euro RSCG in a handful of markets. In Australia, the creative business was handled by Photon-owned BMF, but the account was relinquished without a pitch last month, shortly after Renault appointed Chris Brown, general manager of marketing, and Managing Director Justin Hocevar in early December. The duo were hired from BMW, where they built Mini into a hip brand in Australia as marketing director and managing director, respectively.

Renault hopes that overhauling its marketing team and hiring a new ad agency will turn 2011 into a breakthrough year, and is expected to triple its marketing budget this year in Australia, where auto sales are surging. Car sales rose 10.5% last year over 2009, topping the one million mark for the third time in the Australian history, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

"The Renault brand has been in Australia, but we've never had this level of senior management commitment behind it, combined with such an impressive product range, dealer investment and marketing budget. We're here to establish a serious, respected marque. I see Droga5 as a fundamental catalyst behind that change," Mr. Brown said.

Droga5 was appointed without a pitch following conversations with the new management team.

"The amount of experience that a few of us have got on cars made them comfortable we understand the category," Mr. Nobay said. "These guys have got no baggage, huge expectations and a fantastic product. Giving us the business was more about synergy and being lined up for the same challenge. It's the perfect time to hit the wave."

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