VW Taps Volvo’s Ellis

NEW YORK Tim Ellis, Volvo’s global advertising director, will be Volkswagen’s new vp of marketing. He replaces Kerri Martin, who left in January.

Ellis came to Volvo from the agency side in 2003. He had worked at Forsman & Bodenfors in Sweden for nine years as well as at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco.

Ellis is perhaps best known for his 2004 campaign for the S40 in which Volvo spun a story about a small Swedish town in which 32 drivers purchased an S40 in one day. The campaign also included a “documentary” about the event and a Web site. It made the S40 into a leading seller for Volvo.

Ellis was selected from a field that included former Nissan marketer Jan Thompson, among other high-profile names, sources said.

VW has been plagued by quality problems and a dearth of new product this year. The company’s sales have plunged 30 percent in the last five years, from 338,125 units in 2002 to 235,140 last year.

Measured media spending, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, has also dipped, from about $350 million 2005 (when Arnold, which now works for Volvo, held the business) to less than $300 million last year and about $120 million through the first eight months of 2007.

VW, which is moving its U.S. base to northern Virginia in the spring, has seen a stream of executive departures, including nine senior employees in the past 20 months. Many in the marketing department are not being asked to make the move to Virginia.

Also at issue is the status of its primary agency Crispin Porter + Bugusky, Miami. The agency, recruited by Martin when she joined VW in 2005, has a contract that runs through fall 2008. VW would not comment on the status of the account, although in the past it has said there is no plan for a review.