Volkswagen Seeks Translation

Volkswagen of Amer ica’s search for a shop to handle Spanish-language creative chores reflects a desire by the client to target Hispanic consumers more tightly in an overall down auto market.

Lead agency Ar nold is helping VW evaluate shops, with managing partner Alan Pafenbach, one of the key creatives on the account, and vp, management sup er visor Bill McMullen overseeing the review process.

“The [Hispanic] agency that’s chosen will work with Arnold to assure that messages are consistent” with existing VW work, said Arnold representative Rebecca Sullivan.

The competition has been narrowed to “a handful” of shops, ac cording to VW representative Steve Keyes. Sources said two or three agencies are participating. A winner will be chosen by month’s end.

VW plans no broader review, Keyes said. Even so, senior managers inside Arnold are “concerned” about VW’s desire to add an outside resource and have vowed to address any dissatis faction VW may have with the agency’s performance, sources said.

Arnold’s “Drivers wanted” positioning for VW still plays well among diverse consumer segments and the client has no issues with Arnold’s efforts, said Keyes.

VW has determined, however, that “Drivers wanted” does not resonate with Spanish-speaking consumers. The client is therefore looking for ori ginal creative from a shop intimately familiar with the Hispanic cultural landscape, rather than cont inue adapting Ar nold’s ads, Keyes said.

Volkswagen is Ar-nold’s largest account, spending about $350 million annually on ads, according to CMR.

Keyes said it hasn’t been decided if the Spanish-language campaign will be funded out of the existing marketing budget or if new money will be appropriated for it.

VW continues to rank as America’s best-selling European auto brand and sold 355,648 cars in the U.S. last year.