Renault-Nissan’s European Media in Play

NEW YORK Renault-Nissan is reviewing its $1 billion Pan-European media account, seeking to consolidate duties for the two car brands at a single shop, according to sources.

The process will include the two European incumbents, Omnicom Group’s OMD, which handles Nissan’s estimated $200 million account, and Aegis Group’s Carat, which works on Renault’s estimated $800 million business, per sources.

Two years ago, Aegis Media won the $750 million European General Motors account, which sources said is managed separately from the Renault business to avoid any conflicts. An Aegis representative would not confirm the Renault-Nissan review and referred calls about it to the client. OMD also directed calls to the client.

A Renault rep in Paris, where the review will be managed, said, “We would not comment on it at this time.”

Sources said it is likely that the client would invite nonroster agencies to pitch the business and several shops have made inquiries. It would be logical, media agency executives said, for the Paris-based Renault to consider the big Paris-based holding companies — Publicis and Havas, although both currently have car accounts, Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroen, respectively. That said, both companies could set up separate units to handle the Renault-Nissan pitch. And Interpublic Group has experience in the European car market — it handled GM there before losing it to Carat in 2006. WPP shops handle Ford in Europe.

Sources said “efficiencies” are driving the review to a great extent. “The whole concept of the Renault-Nissan alliance is to create synergies wherever they possibly can while maintaining the separation of the brands in the face of the public,” said one agency source familiar with the situation. “It’s inevitable that procurement would come under scrutiny and media is a very important part of that.”

Sources said the review does not affect the U.S., where the $800 million (per Nielsen-Monitor-Plus) Nissan account is handled by OMD. The Renault brand has not been marketed in the U.S. for years.

The alliance between the two car companies was formed in 1999, with Renault now owning 44.3 percent of Nissan, while Nissan owns a 15 percent stake in Renault. Carlos Ghosn is CEO of both companies, which jointly claim a 9 percent share of the worldwide auto market.