Jolt, a new agency created within FCB, will be taking over the Audi account from 1 January 2018.
The new brand agency will draw on the expertise of the wider FCB group and has been developed specifically to service the Audi account.
The Jolt team will be working closely with FCB Media, through their existing media relationship with Audi, via European Motor Distributors.
“The Audi team have great ambitions for their brand going forward, so it’s hugely exciting to partner with them on the next stage of this iconic brand’s journey,” says FCB chief executive Dan Martin. “We look forward to unleashing the strategic and creative power of Jolt on behalf of Audi.”
This brings an end to Audi’s 11-year partnership with independent agency BCG2.
BCG2 chair and executive creative director James Blackwood says he has had a “fantastic relationship” with the brand and Audi teams and dealerships over the years.
“Michael (Jarvis) and I are extremely proud of BCG2’s contribution to Audi’s phenomenal success in this market,” Blackwood says. “We’ll miss it, without doubt, but eleven years is a pretty good innings. And yes, I’m still going to drive one.”
By winning the Audi account, the wider FCB group has added a second car brand to its creative portfolio.
The agency already works with Volkswagen, after winning the account in 2014.
Audi is owned by the Volkswagen Group at global level, but the brands have always operated independently in New Zealand.
While it’s a little unconventional for an agency to hold the accounts of numerous brands in the same category, VW general managing director Tom Ruddenklau says he isn’t concerned about a potential conflict of interest and intends to continue working with the agency.
“FCB is a really well-structured agency,” he says. “I think [the win]is fantastic for them.”
Ruddenklau says he’s confident Jolt will be able to service Audi while the assigned FCB team continues to look after VW.
FCB is accustomed to managing conflicts of interests in that the agency currently has an assortment of partnerships in the banking and finance industry, which sees the agency working with Westpac on media, ANZ below the line and Latitude Financial Services (which includes Gem) above the line.
In an interview with NZ Marketing for the 2017 Media Issue, FCB media managing director Rufus Chuter said that trust plays a big role in making these relationships work.
“It starts with honest conversations about the nature of the services that individual clients are buying from us,” says Chuter, explaining that the agency takes steps to inform all new clients of the checks and balances in place to ensure that confidential client information doesn’t reach competitors.
“It goes without saying that there are a whole range of information and data security measures that we put in place to ensure that client information is protected.”
There is also perhaps an argument to be made for the evolution of our understanding of conflicts of interest. As far back as 2013, Laurie Coots, then the global CMO at TBWA/Worldwide, wrote in Ad Age that “having a client suggest that you not serve another client in a non-conflicting category because it does not want you to ‘contribute to its competitors’ success’ is no longer acceptable”. She called for conflicts of interests to be resolved on a rational level in tune with how the industry was evolving (particularly in the context of increased project work) rather than on an emotional level, largely informed by boundaries inherited from a previous generation.
In the local market, we are starting to see the growing prominence of project work—even from bigger brands—and this means that instances of overlap will become more common over time and lead to inevitable debates about what a conflict of interest means in today’s fragmented media landscape.