Hotline

Grabarz Outmaneuvers Arnold for VW Launches

BOSTON—Volkswagen has selected Grabarz & Partners to handle advertising for the upcoming German launch of the automaker’s Passat W8 and D1 luxury vehicles. Andreas Grabarz, CEO of the 65-person shop in Hamburg, Germany, confirmed the assignment. “We’re a small creative agency. That a company such as Volkswagen decided to go for a small agency, it is a surprise.” Grabarz has not previously worked for VW. Havas Advertising’ s Boston-based Arnold unit, which teamed with its Dusseldorf sister shop Rempen & Partners, and Grabarz made final pitches at VW’ s headquarters earlier this week. Ad spending on the cars, designed to compete with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, will initially be in the $20 million range but is expected to more than triple in short order, sources said. It is unclear if elements of the winning shop’s German work will also be used to promote the cars in the U.S., where Arnold handles the automaker’s business.

Bestbuy.com Taps Digitas for Relationship Chores

BOSTON—Digitas has been selected by Bestbuy.com to handle relationship marketing duties following a review, sources said. The agency in Boston is mainly charged with developing interactive marketing strategies and executions for the electronics retailer. Spending is expected to be in the eight-figure range. Incumbent Tribal DDB defended.

Athenahealth to Lapham/Miller

BOSTON—Lapham/Miller has added the estimated $5 million account of Athenahealth following a review of East Coast shops; the business had been unassigned. The Andover, Mass., agency is charged with developing online and offline campaigns for the Waltham, Mass., client, which provides Web-based services designed to streamline the medical insurance process.

HMOs Duel with Breaking Campaigns

BOSTON—Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Tufts Health Plan have launched campaigns. Harvard Pilgrim employs the tagline, “Making great health care a little easier.” One spot that features an overly bureaucratic frankfurter company provides a contrast to the client’s efficient offerings. Themed “Dedicated to a higher standard,” Tufts ads focus more on specific benefits such as transplant patient care, but also use a decidedly light touch. Boston agencies Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and Gearon Hoffman handle Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts, respectively.

Roundup

BOSTON—The Richards Group added the $15 million account of Giant Eagle. The agency in Austin, Texas, overcame Doner, Southfield, Mich., and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, in the final round of a review … Carmichael Lynch, Minneapolis, attempts to make A.T. Cross pens more of an everyday, unpretentious writing instrument in its first brand work for the company. The $4 million campaign, breaking in May, introduces the tagline, “The pen, pushed” … Irma S. Mann, Strategic Marketing, Boston, retained the $3 million Massachusetts Port Authority account; separately, former Irma S. Mann client Sonesta International Hotels chose Peter A. Mayer Advertising in New Orleans for its corporate account.