VW Dumps Arnold, Hands Account to CP+B


In the Wow category, VW has taken its $345 million creative business away from Arnold, the car makers agency for ten years, and handed it to golden boy agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. In a statement, VW EVP Len Hunt said, "Volkswagen needs to take bold steps to turn this business around in the U.S. and Canada. "We're reviewing all aspects of our operations, and with the addition of CP+B on our team we'll now be equipped to maximize our marketing efforts. U.S. and Canadian consumers have always had a special relationship with this brand and today they want more from it—more interesting products which we now have and more captivating communications which CP+B will help develop."

by Steve Hall    Sep- 6-05   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Brands   

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Did CP+B and Mini part ways? If not, isn't this a conflict of interest?

Posted by: Scott on September 6, 2005 12:55 PM

Blame the agency for dropping sales- instead of facing the fact: VW builds lower quality cars than even the domestics.
If I had a nickel for every problem one of my employees had with his Jetta, I'd be retired.
I'm sure CB&P will add the hip factor back to VW- but if VW doesn't start building cars with less than 200 defects per car soon- it won't matter what CB&P does.

Posted by: David Esrati on September 6, 2005 2:09 PM

CP dumped Mini this morning. Lots of former CP employee start-ups out there must licking their lips

Posted by: Bevo on September 6, 2005 2:15 PM

CP+B *dumped* Mini? Damn, Alex Bogusky's got some cojones, but it always seems to work out...

Posted by: Temple on September 6, 2005 3:22 PM

Dave Esrati saith the truth. A new agency is not what they need. They need to make more reliable cars and manage word-of-mouth. No slick ad campaign will make me buy a Jetta when EVERYONE I know who owns one tells me to buy something else.

Posted by: Lesley on September 6, 2005 3:42 PM

Hmmm...Maybe if VW went back to its original MO of building practical, functional and affordable cars that got fantastic gas mileage....

Posted by: Aimee Kessler Evans on September 6, 2005 3:43 PM

Maybe dumped was too harsh a word - parted ways quickly would have been better. Either way when you look at $20MM Mini vrs. $345MM VW, VW (crappy cars and all) is gonna win out every time

Posted by: Bevo on September 6, 2005 4:48 PM

Cojones? What cojones? They dumped a $40 million account for one that's ten times as big. That's not risky, that's not gutsy - that's opportunism, pure and simple. If the reverse were the case - if they dropped a huge national account in favor of a much smaller one that they could grow from the ground up - then they'd be sporting some serious wontons. I wonder if their exclusion from the BMW pitch had anything with their decision to poach the VW account.

Speaking of which, one can only wonder what effect this could have on Crispin and Arnold's working relationship on the "Truth" account.

Posted by: Yuri Andropov on September 6, 2005 4:52 PM

I think the BMW exclusion was part of it, what with Mini being owned by them and all...

Posted by: Rob Mortimer on September 6, 2005 8:28 PM

When CB&P didn't make the short list for the whole BMW account- I thought BMW was stupid, either that- or they knew Arnold was going after CB&P.
BMW seems incapable of managing their BIG brand- they split off the motorcylces- they split off Mini-
they don't get it. The motorcycle ads are an embarrasment.
As to VW- they ain't no Burger King. Even with many bad experiences with BK quality- I'll still go back.
Not so with VW.
If VW doesn't do something about the quality of the cars (Hundai is killing them in JD Power) they don't stand a chance.
The Phaeton was STUPID.
The Toureg is a stretch.
The new Beetle is to expensive to be the old Beetle-
and they still don't have the camper.
I'm sure CB&P will be able to make them hip-
and raise awareness- but unless VW makes them right- it ain't going to work.
The best thing for CB&P (besides the money) is that they don't have to worry about getting tired with the same 2 mini's now. the line isn't going to get much bigger- and BMW probably won't bring the C-1 scooter over and add it to the Mini franchise.. (boo hoo).
I feel for Arnold and their staff. Being jobless in Boston is expensive.

Posted by: David Esrati on September 6, 2005 9:00 PM

Can't confirm this, but didn't Mini's head of marketing move to VW a few months ago?

Posted by: Jenne on September 7, 2005 9:43 AM

Jenne - you are correct - from AdAge:

"Crispin's appointment follows the April arrival of Kerri Martin to VW in the new position of director of marketing development. Ms. Martin came to VW from Mini, where she had been marketing communications manager. "

Posted by: xyxyxyxy on September 7, 2005 10:31 AM

This should be interesting. VW is moving from a very opganized agency to one of the most insanely disorganized places in the ad world. I don't think it's gonna work. The new trendwhore director of marketing is gonna be done in less than a year.

Posted by: ASDF on September 7, 2005 12:05 PM

Agreed - the marketing efforts aren't the problem... having your Jettas built in Mexico with very little quality control is.

Posted by: David on September 7, 2005 12:08 PM

realize that it's IMPOSSIBLE for Arnold to say to VW "Make better cars". Marketing will think that it's them trying to cop out on not selling enough. But the first thing that CPB is going to do is tell them to make better cars - and VW will listen. (that's what they did with BK after all).

Posted by: lkjadf on September 7, 2005 10:57 PM

What are you talking about, lkjadf? Has the food improved at Burger King since Crispin won the account? Has the service? Give me a freakin' break! If VW needs an ad agency to tell them to make better cars, then they are in even worse shape than I thought.

Posted by: Bawdy Eric on September 8, 2005 9:13 AM

Actually, BK's food has improved- at least in the minds of the consumers.
Did Ford start building better cars after Wells Rich Lawerence et. al. Came up with "At Ford, Quality is Job 1"
If CB&P didn't tell VW to build a higher quality car- they would be derelict in their duties.
And if Arnold hadn't been telling that to VW- they deserved to go.
I think people are correct- the woman from Mini- moving- to VW- made this happen, and she has proven to be able to work with CB&P- so she will be there longer than a year.
how many times has it been said- the client gets the work they deserve- Arnold took VW from no sales- to where they were actually more than a blip on the market- testament to their ability to do good work. What happened- was happens when great advertising meets a mediocre product- massive reality check.
It will be interesting to see if VW can rediscover "German Engineering" the way Hyundai discovered Japanese quality.
Still: Ditch the Phaeton. Consider makeing the Toureg an Audi-
and concentrate on fuel efficient, affordable, reliable cars- that's what VW is.

Posted by: David Esrati on September 8, 2005 9:53 AM

Bawdy Eric -
Sounds like it's time that you actually read your copy of Reality in Advertising.

Posted by: lkjadf on September 8, 2005 10:46 AM

David, improving Burger King's image is NOT the same as improving Burger King's food (a little something I like to call perception vs. reality). Burger King may seem "hip" and "cool" now - but their burgers and chicken fries and salads still bite the big one. No ad agency can change that.

Sure, Crispin can tell VW to make better cars. I'm sure Arnold told them the very same thing. So why should they listen to Crispin when they didn't listen to Arnold - the very same agency that, as you note, helped engineer their successful comeback in the 90s. The bottom line is, any company that only acts to improve their products (as opposed to the perception of their products) when their ad agency tells them to has no business being in business.

And lkjadf, I've never read "Reality in Advertising" (talk about your oxymorons). I'm not saying Crispin won't come up with a bunch of award-winning work -- I'm sure they will. It's their responsibility to make better ads; it's VW's responsibility to make better cars. That, my laconic friend, IS reality.

Posted by: Bawdy Eric on September 8, 2005 11:07 AM

I'm intrigued by your comment, ASDF. Any chance you worked for Arnold until recently?

And on that note, did anybody reading this work for W+K in the early '90's?

Posted by: anon on September 8, 2005 5:30 PM

It seems as if this Kerri Martin was given all the power she needed to turn the brand around (by Germany), and running back to her old agency that can't handle the account was her survival instinct, squandering a 10-year legacy and costing over 100 Arnoldians their jobs. From what I've heard by friends in the industry, it was a decision made by one person. Even CEO Len Hunt, who resigned this morning, seems to regret this move. Good riddance.

Posted by: anon on September 9, 2005 10:48 AM

good call. it's pretty clear that even the folks at VW in detroit weren't expecting the announcement; the decision has virtually no support. are we going to have to put up with subservient jetta now?

Posted by: Nitram on September 9, 2005 10:53 AM

Anon, I find Crispin to be as obnoxious and overhyped as the next person, but what makes you so sure that they "can't handle the account?" Look what they did for Mini and Virgin Atlantic. They even managed to turn Burger King around. Sure, they're a bunch of preening, self-satisfied showoffs, but they have a pretty impressive batting average. I'm not criticizing you, Anon; I'm just wondering what basis you have for your assertions.

And Nitram: Where did you hear that the switch to Crispin has "virtually no support?" Is there an article or something you can link to?

I do think it sucks that more than 100 people have lost their jobs over this. I've been there myself, so I definitely feel their pain. But, as cold as it is to say, it's business, not personal. (Although I'd love to be a fly on the wall next time Arnold and Crispin has to work together on the "Truth" campaign.)

Posted by: Rotgut on September 9, 2005 12:03 PM