4 Shops Vie for Honda’s Digital Account

Automaker spends $50 million annually on digital ads

American Honda Motor Co.'s digital marketing review pits agencies from three major holding companies against a key roster shop.

Sources identified the finalists as VML, a unit of WPP Group's Young & Rubicam Group; Publicis Groupe's Razorfish; Interpublic Group's R/GA; and Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, which already handles a large chunk of Honda's digital marketing. All told, Honda spends about $50 million annually on digital ads.

In the review, Honda aims to consolidate business that's dispersed among several agencies, including MXM, Genex, RPA and Mullen. The assignment encompasses both Honda and its luxury cousin, Acura, and includes everything from website development and e-commerce efforts to all types of online ads.

Final presentations will take place next week at Honda's U.S. headquarters in Torrance, Calif., according to sources. Roth Observatory International is managing the process.

Roth did not return calls and a Honda representative declined to comment. Sources expect a selection in June.

The digital review follows a review of traditional creative and media responsibilities last year that resulted in Honda retaining longtime incumbent RPA on the namesake brand, hiring Mullen to handle Acura's creative business and hiring MediaVest to plan and buy media—in traditional and digital media—for both brands. The last two assignments came out of RPA.