Martin Leaves Volkswagen

NEW YORK Kerri Martin, director of brand innovation at Volkswagen of America since April 2005, has left the carmaker.

In her post, she oversaw national and regional marketing, public relations and consumer insights for the United States and Canada. Five months after joining VW, the company shifted its creative account from Havas-owned Arnold in Boston to MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami.

CP+B had worked closely with Martin when she was marketing communications manager at BMW’s Mini Cooper, where she served immediately before VW. (CP+B resigned the estimated $40 million Mini account to take on VW’s business. The latter spends close to $400 million in North American measured media each year.)

VW sales grew about 5 percent last year compared to 2005, according to Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif. VW sold a total of 235,000 units in 2006.

Martin and officials at VW’s U.S. headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich., could not immediately be reached for comment.

CP+B in December helped launch VW’s Eos convertible, eschewing TV in favor of an online boutique to shape and extend the car’s identity. The site,, features an Eos line of wraps, silk scarves and blankets designed by Lutz & Patmos and Hable Construction.

The shop also generated some controversy with its earlier “Safe happens” spots, which depicted crashes to make points about safety.

Arnold for 10 years had fashioned well-known ads tagged “Drivers wanted,” but VW’s domestic sales had fallen off for at least five years before the business was moved to CP+B.

Separately, Wolfgang Bernhard, global head of the VW brand, has resigned from the company effective Jan. 31 after serving almost two years, it was disclosed today at the company’s Wolfsburg, Germany, headquarters.

The move came amidst a changing of the guard at the automaker and Bernhard’s conflict with chairman Ferdinand Piech. Bernhard “will leave the company by mutual agreement,” according to a statement issued by the company.