VW Awards Hispanic Assignment

Creative on Demand’s initial charge from Volkswagen of America is to find ways to effectively communicate the automaker’s “Drivers wanted” positioning to Hispanic consumers.

The Coral Ga-bles, Fla., shop defeated Miami’s CreatAbility in the finals of a review designed to identify a Hispanic marketing partner for Boston-based Arnold, VW’s lead U.S. agency.

“From a philosophical standpoint, I’m not sure the meaning of ‘Drivers wanted’ translates readily to Hispanics,” said an agency executive involved in the review. “There’s a strong chance that the intended image—individuals who love driving—is not coming across.”

He added that the drivers’ image might be negative, implying “job-seekers” rather than car buyers.

Arnold has previously done direct English-to-Spanish translations of its work for Hispanic media.

VW’s annual U.S. sales were virtually flat in 2001 following several years of double-digit gains. The client has identified Latinos as a consumer segment where sales could grow through fine-tuning Arnold’s brand message, sources said.

Officials at both VW and Arnold were careful, however, to stress that the Havas-owned agency’s status on the $350 million account, its largest piece of business, is not jeopardized or diminished.

A VW representative, who said no other assignments will be doled out, indicated that Arnold will work closely with Creative on Demand to forge synergies across the company’s advertising.

Daniel Marrero, Creative on Demand’s president, did not return calls by press time. The shop’s client roster includes Viagra, Guinness, Sony and Discover en Español.

Crosstown rival del Rivero Messianu DDB, which holds VW’s image and retail assignments in Central America, Puerto Rico, Columbia and Ecuador, had been considered a front-runner. But sources suggested competitive pressures between Arnold and DDB, which handles VW’s advertising overseas, may have worked against del Rivero.

“I hope we’re not that paranoid,” said Arnold chairman and CEO Ed Eskandarian. Arnold officials consulted with VW on the Hispanic agency selection, but “didn’t have final say,” Eskandarian said.

Creative on Demand will be charged with developing advertising that speaks to the culture and traditions of the nation’s 33 million Hispanic consumers.