Infinti Cuts to 4 Global Review Finalists

Incumbent TBWA not among them

Infiniti Motor Co. has narrowed its agency search to four finalists in its global creative review and TBWA, the incumbent since the late 1990s, is not among them.

Making the cut are Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Anomaly, sources said.

Late last month the luxury brand met with more than a half-dozen agency semifinalists. Others included M&C Saatchi, FCB and Havas Worldwide, which pitched with sister shop Arnold.

Infiniti, which spends $450 million globally on media spending, expects to complete its search in August.

The shortlist, with the elimination of some sizeable global agencies, raises questions about how the smaller contenders will handle the brand’s business around the world. It’s believed BBH is partnering with larger corporate sibling Publicis on the pitch. (It's still unclear, though, how BBH U.K. would work for both long-term premium brand Audi and Nissan competitor Infiniti.) San Francisco-based GSP, which originally entered the review with sister company TBWA, is expected to partner with another Omnicom agency network around the world. CP+B has limited international presence but last month hired former Publicis Worldwide COO Richard Pinder to expand the agency's global footprint. For its part, Anomaly has four global offices outside its New York headquarters, including a Shanghai location.

Working with the brand in China is a major consideration for contenders in the review. This week Infinti president Johan de Nysschen said China has become the brand’s second-biggest market, after the U.S., with sales of 14,000 cars in the first six months of 2014, more than double in the year-earlier period. That number is increasing at a higher rate than the average 32 percent growth in China’s luxury car market and more than Infiniti’s 30 percent growth in sales globally.

Calls to Roth Observatory International, which is helping manage the search, were not returned. Executives at the four finalist agencies either did not return calls or declined to comment.