Wingcast Calls On JWT & Tonic

Voice-acti vated systems maker Wingcast has selected JWT & Tonic to handle creative and media responsibilities on its ad account. Billings were not disclosed.

The company, whose systems enable car drivers to access the Internet, tapped the San Francisco agency after a review that included two undisclosed Southern California shops.

Based in San Diego, Wingcast was formed in October 2000 as a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and Qualcomm. Its systems will be available in Ford and Nissan vehicles as early as this year.

JWT & Tonic’s new-business director, Vikki Garrod, said the shop’s experience in the high-tech sector will be an asset as it moves forward on a campaign. “This is a really good product for us to work on because we grew up as an interactive agency. It’s a great, natural fit for us,” said Garrod, who held the same title at Tonic 360 before it was merged into J. Walter Thompson’s San Fran cisco office late last year.

Agency partner and creative director Fred Schwartz said other companies have designed similar systems for automobiles. But he said Wingcast has the opportunity to carve a niche in the developing market for sophisticated car gadgets.

The agency said Wingcast gives users more than a simple “Hello” or a reminder that the car is low on gas. For example, if the airbags deploy, the system will ask if the passenger is hurt and summon help via computer if necessary. Also, the system is designed to give information about restaurants and accommodations during road trips.

The agency would not comment on a timetable for the first ads, but managing partner Kevin Burke said they will likely be tailored to car dealers and enthusiasts and could later expand to the general consumer market.

The client could not be reached for comment.

Separately, JWT & Tonic has launched a campaign for the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. A pro-bono TV spot now airing in local markets shows a dog training to be the “perfect” pet. The dog is shown sitting by a conveyer belt as a shoe, a T-bone steak and a kitten pass by. The dog gets excited by the offerings—but backs off in each case. The commercial then plugs the organization.

JWT & Tonic also works on the $100 million Sun Microsystems account and with Macy’s West. The agency is also one of three finalists pitching the Cisco business.