MINIUSA Loses Its Advertising Agency to VW

Certainly a bad day for MINI. First Kerri Martin leaves for VW and now MINI’s award winning advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky makes the move to bigger money. This news comes from the Automotive News

Volkswagen is replacing longtime advertising agency Arnold Worldwide with Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami. Crispin Porter is known for its work on BMW’s Mini account.

Crispin Porter will take charge of all advertising and marketing for the VW brand account, effective Dec. 5. Crispin Porter resigned the Mini account on Tuesday, effective in 90 days, said Jeff Hicks, CEO and partner of the agency.

Boston-based Arnold has been VW’s ad agency for 10 years, said Ron Lawner, Arnold’s chairman and chief creative officer. He said the agency received a call from Volkswagen of America Executive Vice President Len Hunt, who heads the VW brand, this morning terminating the relationship.

“I was surprised,” Lawner said. “That account meant an awful lot to this agency. It’s very traumatic.” Hunt said it was a difficult call to make after a 10-year partnership. “I stressed how happy we’ve been with them but that we wanted to go in a new direction,” he said. That new direction includes redirecting advertising dollars away from traditional TV and print toward more viral, event-driven and online advertising, Hunt said.

“We’ve begun to realize the world’s changed a little bit,” he said. “Today, it’s not so much about communication with people; it’s about connecting with them.”

A call to BMW of North America LLC was not returned this morning. In a statement to the press, Hunt said VW needs to take “bold steps to turn this business around in the U.S. and Canada” and is reviewing all aspects of the business. VW’s U.S. sales have struggled this year. The brand’s August U.S. sales inched up 1.6 percent compared with August 2004. U.S. sales for the first eight months of the year, however, are down 19.1 percent, compared with the year-ago period. “With the addition of CP&B on our team, we’ll now be equipped to maximize our marketing efforts,” Hunt said.

VW’s director of brand innovation, Kerri Martin, had been Mini’s marketing communication manager until March 15 when VWoA hired her. Hunt said Martin did influence the decision to replace Arnold. He said she worked with Crispin Porter when she was at Mini and believes the agency is good at the grass-roots kind of marketing that VW wants to shift to.

You can read the entire article on the Automotive News website (subscriber only) or wait to see if Autoweek picks it up in a day or two.

[ VW replaces ad agency with Mini’s firm ] Automotive News

MF Analysis: BMW has recently began searching for a new advertising agency as well, after dumping their long time partner several months ago. Interestingly BMW decided against including CP & B in their recent search. One wonders how that decision may have effected CP & B’s choice to end their relationship with MINI in favor of VW. MINI after-all only spends around $22 million annually compared to the over $400 million VW dishes out.