Audi parts ways with longtime ad agency to switch to electric cars

  • Volkswagen’s Audi will part ways with ad agency Venables Bell & Partners in 2022 after 15 years.
  • The move could be a big win for Accenture, WPP and Publicis, which are finalists on behalf of $185 million.
  • The move comes as Audi tries to aggressively move into electric cars.

Volkswagen’s Audi is set to part ways with U.S. advertising agency Venables Bell & Partners after 15 years when its contract expires in July 2022, several people with direct knowledge have said.

The move could be a big win for Accenture’s Droga5, WPP’s Ogilvy, Omnicom’s DDB, agencies Publicis Rauxa and Fallon, Havas New York or Badger & Winters, which are finalists for the company. Audi spent $185 million on advertising in the United States over the past year, according to Comvergence. He should make a decision by the end of the year.

An Audi spokeswoman said the expiration of VB&P’s current contract was an appropriate time to review its advertising business, especially as it shifts more aggressively towards electric vehicles.

Volkswagen has shaken up its global marketing strategy in recent years to cut costs and consolidate operations in Germany, people familiar with the company said. According to Comvergence, Volkswagen will spend about $700 million on marketing for Audi globally in 2021, up from $775 million in 2019.

Volkswagen has also just launched a review of its global ad buying business, which is handled by Omnicom’s PHD, and sources said it is currently looking for a new agency for Audi in Canada.

Audi was VB&P’s biggest account. He has produced several major campaigns for Audi in recent years, including a 2016 Super Bowl ad featuring David Bowie’s “Starman” and a more controversial 2017 Big Game spot that addressed gender equality issues.

Audi’s sales fell from 93,000 cars sold in the United States, or 0.55% market share, in 2007 to 224,000 cars and 1.32% market share in 2019. The fourth quarter of 2020 was the best in Audi history for worldwide sales.

Volkswagen’s consolidation moves didn’t go over well with VB&P, which decided not to compete for the Audi business. Two people with direct knowledge said the agency prepared for the split by focusing on other clients like Chipotle and aiming for smaller assignments, including winning Ben & Jerry’s and Frito Lay.

Marilyn J. Hernandez