$150 Mil. Volvo Picks Arnold, Nitro

BOSTON Arnold has won the creative portion of the $150 million global Volvo ad account following a review, the client has confirmed.

Havas’ Arnold in Boston pitched with independent Nitro in London against Publicis Groupe’s Fallon in Minneapolis in the final round.

“We wanted a powerful, overarching single-minded idea that could leverage and emotionalize our rich heritage,” said Tim Ellis, director of global advertising at Volvo, confirming the win first reported by Adweek.com earlier today.

Arnold’s headquarters office will lead the account. The first work from the new shops will promote the global launches of Volvo’s V70 and XC70 models.

“Volvo is a premium brand with a real heart and real emotional pull,” said Pete Favat, Arnold’s CCO.

Sources said Arnold and Nitro’s winning pitch positioned the car as symbolic of a high-end lifestyle that lasts throughout the day, even when drivers have left their vehicles.

Ellis said the work would stress safety, long a Volvo hallmark, as well as its Scandinavian design and respect for the environment.

Volvo had confirmed inviting back Arnold/Nitro and Fallon after cutting incumbent Euro RSCG, also owned by Havas, and 180, a unit of Omnicom Group, from contention.

Arnold/Nitro and Fallon completed a round of presentations to client officials in London last week.

Euro RSCG in New York has been Volvo’s principal agency and will likely keep some local chores overseas that were not part of the review, Volvo said.

Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, a late entrant in the review, exited in order to pursue another car account, the $600 million Hyundai business, which it won on Tuesday. (Arnold also competed for Hyundai.)

Roth Associates in New York managed the review for Volvo, which is a unit of Ford. During the competition, evp, marketing Hans Krondahl said he would leave Volvo to become CEO of an automotive parts company in Sweden, through he remained with the automaker through the decision process.

Euro RSCG has worked on the account since 1991, handling Volvo in the U.S. and elsewhere, though the automaker does work with several other agencies on various assignments.

The competition was spurred by disagreements about creative direction, with Volvo executives unable to agree on whether North American work or concepts created for overseas markets should be used worldwide, sources said. Volvo senior management in Sweden wants a single global concept, and decided a review would best address that need.

Media duties, handled by various agency partners, are not affected. Neither is the interactive Volvo work handled by Euro RSCG 4D.

Both Arnold and Fallon were seeking returns to the automotive category. Each lost a major nameplate in 2005, as Volkswagen swung from Arnold to Crispin Porter + Bogusky and BMW left Fallon for GSD&M.

Arnold’s “Drivers wanted” campaign for Volkswagen of America, which ran from 1995-2005, ranked among the best-known (and most awarded) auto advertising of its era, though VW sales slipped during the final few years of the effort.

During the Volvo pitch, Arnold faced an odd attack from consumer advocate Glenn Sacks, who blasted some of the shop’s recent commercials as “anti-father,” and called for Volvo to retain Euro RSCG. Arnold CEO Fran Kelly defended the shop as “an agency with strong values” in the face of the unusual challenge. Arnold today launched new Fidelity ads that take an entirely different approach.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with client confirmation and other details.