Last week, Audi of America parked its $30-million account at McKinney, whose road to success on the five-month long pitch began with a recommendation from BBH.
BBH has handled Audi in the U.K. for some 11 years and its work on the account is widely regarded as some of the best car advertising around. With a single London office, BBH wasn't eligible for Audi's U.S. account. Perhaps as a testament to BBH's influence with Audi, other agencies are believed to have sought backing from BBH, including Ammirati & Puris.
BBH recommended McKinney to Audi consultant Jones-Lundin after Ammirati dropped out, one source said. But BBH's contribution didn't stop there. A BBH exec flew in from London to "debrief" M&S during a day-long meeting also attended by other car industry experts.
"There are basic truths in brands; there's history and heritage. Those things are important to understand," said one source about the insights BBH shared with McKinney. According to Audi chief Gerd Klauss, a key factor in the decision to chose M&S over Boston's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and Carmichael Lynch/Minneapolis was McKinney's depth of knowledge about Audi. "McKinney & Silver demonstrated particularly impressive insights into the soul of our company, products and the Audi consumer," Klauss said in a statement.
Both BBH and McKinney executives, having earlier described BBH's role as a "consultant and advisor" (ADWEEK, May 31), downplayed BBH's involvement. "(BBH) was one of several sources we tapped to prepare for the pitch," said McKinney president/ceo Bob Doherty. "But it was our work."
"We were happy to give McKinney as much help as we could in a way that they have helped us in the past. We just (supplied) background. The pitch was theirs alone," said Nigel Bogle, BBH joint chief executive.
The two agencies have collaborated before, with M&S introducing its U.S. clients to BBH.
This week, Audi and McKinney will begin preparing their first major campaign, set to launch in early 1994.
Like most agencies-especially those off Madison Avenue or outside Detroit--McKinney feels it's playing in the big leagues now that it has reeled in a coveted automobile account.
"This means a lot to us, in terms of the way the rest of the (ad) industry looks at us," said Doherty. "I think this validates us in the eyes of a lot of people in our business."
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)