$100 Mil. Audi Picks Venables

DALLAS Audi of America said it has selected San Francisco independent Venables, Bell and Partners to handle creative chores on its ad account following a review.

Estimated billings are $100 million.

The 13-year incumbent, Havas-owned McKinney in Durham, N.C., and Publicis Groupe-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York were also finalists. (Another contender, Publicis’ Fallon in Minneapolis, exited the contest last month.)

Brad Brinegar, chairman and CEO of McKinney, said, “When McKinney won the account in 1993, Audi was on its way to being pulled from the American market. Since then, we have helped [Audi] rebound to become one of the premier brands in its category, growing 12 of the past 13 years. We wish the very best to the many friends that we made at Audi.”

The review follows the May appointment of former Mercedes executive Scott Keogh as the company’s chief marketing officer.

Audi’s tagline is “Never follow.” Recent ads by McKinney have touted the Quattro all-wheel-drive performance.

Agency partner Paul Venables said, “We are so thrilled. Not only do we get to partner with a world-class automotive company, but I feel that it is one that truly reflects who we are, our values and our spirit. There is a little bit of a maverick spirit in both the agency and at Audi. It is a good fit.”

Prior to the win, the agency employed 100 people and claimed less than $200 million in total billings. Venables partnered with Palisades Media in Santa Monica, Calif., on the pitch.

Venables said, “Nothing legitimizes an agency like a car, and there’s no better car to get than a prestigious German car.”

Audi is a unit of Volkswagen, which uses MCD Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami as its lead U.S. creative agency.