BMW Is Seeking a New Creative Agency for Its Nearly $300 Million U.S. Account

It is unclear whether incumbent KBS will defend

The MDC Partners agency has held the account since 2011.
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Luxury auto brand BMW has launched a full U.S. creative review.

A company spokesperson confirmed the procurement-driven review, which comes as incumbent KBS’s current contract is ending. The agency declined to comment, and it is unclear whether it will defend the business.

The scope of the review involves BMW seeking an agency to handle brand communication, regional co-op advertising and dealer advertising in the U.S. Between manufacturer and dealer advertising BMW spent over $272 million on measured marketing in the U.S. last year and over $56 million in the first six months of 2017, according to Kantar Media.

Search consultancy Roth Ryan Hayes is managing the process. A representative has not yet responded to a request for comment.

According to two parties with direct knowledge of the matter, the German brand launched the review as part of a larger effort to streamline its global marketing expenses. The RFP, which has not yet been issued, will task the competing agencies with adapting global creative efforts for the U.S. market, thereby allowing BMW to create fewer campaigns overall.

Last month, BMW concluded a review of its Mini brand by selecting Pereira & O’Dell and 360i as its agency partners. Mini had formerly worked with BSSP, who resigned the account in March after over a decade with the client. BSSP was recently named U.S. agency of record for Mitsubishi, concluding a review launched in May.

According to the aforementioned parties, this review aims to follow that model in establishing a two-agency partnership, with one shop handling lead creative duties for the brand and one focusing on digital work. One individual close to the review lists Anomaly, R/GA and AKQA among the shops that have been in talks with BMW and the consultancy.

KBS handled a majority of BMW’s U.S. marketing responsibilities since beating out Grey, The Martin Agency and others in a 2011 review. But its portion of the account has progressively grown smaller; late last year, Critical Mass won web design work for the brand as Laundry Service picked up social media duties.

BMW also appointed FCB Canada as its creative agency of record for that country over the summer following a review that included four agencies.