The news that Volkswagen was reviewing its relationship with DDB was a surprise to many given the brand's performance in recent years, and BMW, which managed to reclaim the top spot in the premium stakes from Audi with DraftFCB in the passenger seat, is following suit.
When asked if it was conducting an agency review, national sales and marketing manager Greg Hedgpeth said "no comment" and DraftFCB directed all questions to BMW. But it's thought to be in the credentials stage and it also involves media, which is also held by DraftFCB. It's not clear whether the review involves BMW-owned Mini, which DraftFCB also holds (and has won quite a few awards for recently).
Volkswagen's rumoured list of contenders includes incumbent DDB, ColensoBBDO and Assignment (it's thought Assignment dropped Hyundai, which went to Shine, but the agency has a good connection to Tom Ruddenklau, the ex chief operating officer of Hyundai and now general manager of Volkswagen), so, unless there's a bit of double dipping, some of the top automotive agencies are already tied up.
When we spoke with Hedgepeth about BMW's return to premium pole position earlier this year, he said it convinced HQ to shift from a global campaign based around the joy of driving and move back to its 'ultimate driving machine' tagline, which was better suited to this market. It has also brought the average age of a BMW customer down from 55 ten years ago to 50 now, and most of the growth is coming from new customers.
In 2012, BMW sold 1,642 new cars and Hedgepeth says it doubled Audi’s growth and tripled that of Mercedes with a 35.5 percent increase on 2011. And with used car sales, he says that gap was even bigger. Added to that, it was also the most Googled premium car brand in the country, in the top ten most searched for car brands on TradeMe and had over 20,000 Facebook fans (Mini isn’t looking too shabby either: it was the 6th biggest premium brand in the country, up with Lexus and Landrover).
This year BMW has been setting new retail records and has retained the lead of the premium segment. And a near-record result of 201 registrations for the month of June saw BMW extend that lead.