Audi has retained BBH to manage its creative business following a final pitch against Engine.
The car marque’s move in April to review its relationship with BBH London came as a surprise to the industry, not least because the four-decades long partnership had resulted in a catalogue of IPA award-winning work.
But the procurement-initiated review hinted at Audi hunting efficiencies from its advertising spend. The division had been under scrutiny from parent company Volkswagen's bosses, with chief executive Bram Schot declaring his intention to overhaul the Audi brand as part of a wider efficiency drive in the group shortly before it commenced.
Upon being alerted to the shock review, a handful of agencies publicly declared that they would decline to pitch if approached, including Leo Burnett, Lucky Generals and Ogilvy.
However, Audi entered final talks with BBH and Engine in July.
The Drum has contacted Audi and BBH for comment but was awaiting response at the time of writing. An Engine spokesperson declined to comment other than congratulating BBH on the win.
A new Audi and a new BBH
During the review, Audi underwent a change in guard as previous UK marketing director Benjamin Braun stepped down in April to take the top job at Samsung.
Anna Russell has been in the interim role as the hunt for a permanent replacement continues.
Meanwhile, BBH saw its own high-profile exit with the departure of chief creative officer Ian Heartfield who it set to depart to join Adam & Eve co-founders James Murphy and David Golding's new venture.
Hartfield had run the Audi account and been behind the likes of the Cannes Lions-winning spots ‘Birth’, and ‘Clowns’.
BBH will also have to work with Audi's new global advertising agency, 72andSunny, which was hired earlier this month to orchestrate a brand refresh. As part of the brief, the agency will “redefine” the long-running ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ slogan, which was first created by BBH founder Sir John Hegarty.
The global campaign will be led by 72andSunny’s Amsterdam HQ and be revealed in the first quarter of 2020.
PHD continues to manage Audi's media business. According to data from Winmo, Audi spent almost 60% less on paid media in 2018 (£14.5m) compared to the year prior when spend passed £33m in the UK.