Omnicom/DDB Eliminated From Volkswagen North America Review

By Patrick Coffee 

The North American portion of Volkswagen’s ongoing global creative review has come down to two.

According to four sources with direct knowledge of the competition, the “Voltage” team led by DDB New York was recently eliminated from the pitch.

This makes Omnicom the second holding company to be cut. The client declined to invite IPG to Germany for the final round last month, ending its 9-year relationship with Deutsch.

The review, which occurred on a regional basis around the world, initially involved those two as well as Publicis and WPP. Another person confirmed earlier reports that the parties pitching were not specific agencies but, rather, hand-picked groups of representatives from across each holding company.

UPDATE: After this story initially ran, additional sources confirmed that the finalists in the review are indeed WPP and Publicis. The former has brought on staff from several agencies including Possible while the latter is reportedly looking for freelancers to assist in the pitch effort.

Volkswagen and Publicis declined to comment. Representatives for Omnicom and DDB did not respond to related emails, and WPP referred to the client.

Another clue, according to people who have been directly involved in the pitch, lies in DDB’s decision to part ways with New York president and CEO Chris Brown, whose team would have reportedly led the VW account from New York had Omnicom won. Our sources stated that the team included employees from Alma and other holding company shops but did not name those additional agencies.

The news that he will be leaving near the end of the year also followed DDB’s decision to cut three C-suite positions in the New York office around the same time IPG was eliminated.

One party involved in the review said IPG and Omnicom were most likely eliminated at or around the same time, but the client is keeping all related information close to its chest.

The business led to a separate controversy last week after Adweek reported that DDB CEO Wendy Clark had hired Ted Royer, former chief creative officer of Droga5, to help lead the pitch. After Clark initially appeared to deny the claim, an agency spokesperson confirmed that Royer had “worked independently” on the project.

Clark subsequently said she would be stepping down from the 10-woman Time’s Up Advertising steering committe, with DDB New York co-CCO Lisa Topol to take her place.

According to our sources, news of Volkswagen’s final decisions should come down in November.