Volkswagen Seat Win Is a Big Deal for Lowe and Huge

Sister shops will open a new office in Barcelona to run the international account

With the addition of Volkswagen’s Seat creative business, Lowe adds a significant international client beyond Unilever, the agency’s largest account in terms of revenue.

Seat also represents Michael Wall’s biggest coup since he became Lowe’s global CEO in 2009. Finally, the win accelerates the global expansion plans of fellow Interpublic Group shop Huge, which partnered with Lowe on the pitch. Revenue on the business is estimated at more than $15 million.

The assignment came after a review in which there were two other finalists: the Omnicom Group team of DDB and Tribal and the WPP Group team of Grey and Possible, according to sources. Grey and Possible were the incumbents, with Grey having worked on the brand since 2004.

Seat held a separate pitch for media planning and buying, which incumbent MediaCom largely retained, keeping all markets except for the U.K., which shifted to Omnicom’s PHD. Agency Insight in London managed the review.

Seat sells about a half-dozen models in 77 countries, including England, Germany, France, Sweden, Russia, China, Australia, Colombia and Chile. The car brand, however, is not available in the U.S.

To handle the creative assignment, Lowe and Huge are opening an office in Barcelona, Spain, near Seat’s headquarters in Martorell. The new office will be called LolaHuge. (Lola is the name of Lowe’s office in Madrid, whose leaders played key roles in the pitch.)

To start, the office will have some 60 to 80 staffers, with nearly equal representation from Lowe and Huge, according to Wall and Chris Hayes, global chief marketing officer at Huge. The agencies are looking outside to recruit business and creative chiefs to run the account day-to-day.

Seat is the second client that Lowe and Huge share—the other is Unilever.

Seat’s shift from Grey and Possible has begun, and the new agencies will likely produce some tactical ads before the end of the year. But the first big new campaign probably won’t break until early 2014.