Volkswagen of America this week is meeting with five shops that are pursuing its U.S creative account following the carmaker's split with Crispin, Porter + Bogusky earlier this month, sources said.
Sources identified the agencies as Interpublic Group units The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif.; Omnicom Group units DDB (pursuing from multiple offices) and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco; and independent Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore.
On Tuesday, a client representative confirmed the number of shops but declined to name them. MDC Partners' Crispin, which had handled creative and media planning duties on VW since 2005, declined an opportunity to defend.
The meetings will take place at the agencies. Afterward, VW will likely narrow its list of contenders to three or four, the rep said. Final presentations are expected in mid-October.
The agencies either declined to comment or could not be reached. Roth Associates, the New York consultancy managing the search, did not return calls.
VW's major media spending exceeded $220 million last year and totaled more than $110 million in the first half of 2009, according to Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.
WPP Group's MediaCom in New York handles media buying duties, which are not in play.
The creative shops pursuing VW all have car experience, some more recent than others. Martin, for example, worked on Saab from 1997 until 2002, but hasn't had a car account since. Wieden's last car brand in the U.S was Subaru (1991-94). Overseas, the agency works for Honda in parts of Europe -- including the U.K. -- and Asia.
DDB handles VW in most overseas markets, and Deutsch/LA has been Saturn's lead agency since 2007. General Motors is in the process of selling Saturn to Penske Automotive Group, throwing into question the brand's future marketing plans. The deal is expected to close in September.
Goodby's most recent car account was Hyundai Motor America, which it handled for two years before the client shifted the business to World Marketing Group in Irvine, Calif. last year. Before Hyundai, Goodby handled Saturn's account for five years.
Nielsen Business Media