VW Taps Creative on Demand

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

The Coral Gables, Fla., agency defeated Miami’s Creat Ability in the final round of a review designed to identify a Hispanic marketing partner for Boston-based Arnold, VW’s lead domestic agency.

“From a philosophical standpoint, I’m not sure the meaning of ‘Drivers wanted’ translates readily to Hispanics,” said one agency executive involved in the review. “There’s a strong chance that the intended image—indivi duals who love driving—is not coming across.” The executive sug gested “drivers” may have a neg ative connotation, implying “job-seekers” rather than car owners.

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

VW’s annual U.S. sales were virtually flat in 2001, following several years of double-digit gains. The client has identified Hispanics as a consumer segment where sales could be boosted through a “fine-tuning” of Arnold’s brand message, according to sources.

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

A VW representative said no other assignments will be doled out and insisted that Arnold will work closely with Creative on Demand to forge synergies across the com pany’s advertising.

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

Crosstown rival del Rivero Messianu DDB, which holds VW’s image and retail assignments in Central America, Puerto Rico, Col ombia and Ecuador, had been considered a front-runner among some client decision-makers, sources said. But competitive tensions between Arnold and DDB, which handles VW in many markets overseas, likely worked against del Rivero, sources said.

“I hope we’re not that paranoid,” said Ed Eskandarian, Arnold’s chairman and CEO. Arnold executives con sulted with VW on the Hispanic- agency selection process but didn’t have “final say” on choosing a winner, according to Eskandarian. “If [del Rivero] were the best, we wouldn’t have hesitated to recommend them.”

Independent shop Creative on Demand’s specific creative and media plans for an endeavor designed to reach the 33 million Hispanic consumers in the U.S. have yet to be determined.

Arnold introduced “Drivers wanted” for VW shortly after winning the business seven years ago.—with David Gianatasio and Tanya Irwi