Volkswagen picks WPP for North American marketing

The automaker taps a group of agencies (including Taxi and Geometry) as part of broader marketing efficiency efforts.
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Volkswagen has announced a number of initiatives to improve its marketing efficiency, including selecting WPP to lead its marketing in North America, an assignment that includes Canada.

The selection comes following a global review that the automaker has been conducting through much of the year. While WPP is handling North American marketing, Omnicom will handle the assignment in markets in Europe and South America, while Cheil will handle the business in China.

A spokesperson for WPP said the holding company could not say which agencies specifically would be covering the Canadian portion of the assignment, but did say that agencies Taxi, Geometry Global, Possible, David, as well as Hogarth would be involved across North America. Possible (which has an office in Toronto) had its operations brought under Wunderman last year (which itself will be merged with J. Walter Thompson), while David – like Geometry – is part of the Ogilvy network.

The automaker had previously worked with DDB in Canada since the agency picked up the account in 2014.

The new assignments are part of the automaker’s plan to increase its marketing efficiency by 30% by 2020, and reduces its number of agency partners globally from roughly 40 to three leads, VW announced today. The company expects to keep its marketing budget “stable” at €1.5 billion, though there are plans to increase the digital share of its marketing mix to 50%, up from 25% in 2015.

Next year, the automaker says it will “pool its marketing activities” into four “powerhouses” that correspond with each of the assignments, based out of New York, Berlin, São Paulo and Beijing, something Jürgen Stackmann, board member responsible for sales of the Volkswagen brand, says will allow the brand to be managed “in a leaner, more centralized way.”

Volkswagen says key marketing focuses for 2019 will be the latest models of the Golf and ID electric car, new digital platforms for sales and on-demand services, new brand platforms and a “rejuvenated” brand image expected to debut in the spring. It is also planning to place emphasis on direct communications through a personalized ID that will be given to customers in 2020. The ID will allow for a completely personalized experience, both in brand marketing and in services that the automaker provides to current owners.