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Volkswagen US assembles bespoke WPP team with Johannes Leonardo at helm

Johannes Leonardo will lead on brand in the WPP agency team

Volkswagen has bucked the trend of dismantling bespoke agency teams by handpicking specialists from across WPP to produce its US creative, naming Johannes Leonardo as its lead brand agency.

The New York shop will pull together a bespoke team together with specialists from across a number of other WPP agencies.

WPP would not comment on which particular agencies it would be working with. However, a release noted expertise would be brought in to staff data intelligence, CRM, retail, the company’s website and ‘other key functions for the brand’.

The agency team will begin work immediately from New York, where Johannes Leonardo is located.

The unit, founded by Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico, is minority owned by the WPP. Just last month reports emerged that the company had bought back a “significant” portion of the 49% stake WPP held. WPP did not comment on the buyback.

Volkswagen confirmed it would be consolidating its North American creative in WPP back in November 2018. It noted plans to cut its agency roster from 40 shops to three in a quest to improve its marketing efficiency by about 30% by 2020.

Elsewhere, its commercial division named BBH as its agency of record in the UK last week (7 February).

Scott Keogh, chief executive and president of Volkswagen Group of America said he hoped the newly-formed “US powerhouse” would “[transform] our marketing approach through a combination of creative excellence and data driven intelligence”.

Jacobs added: "We are honored to be part of a team that will reclaim the soul and confidence of Volkswagen in order to inform a powerful future.”

Ford broke with WPP’s Global Team Blue (GTB) after almost 13 years of partnership when it named Omnicom’s BBDO as lead agency in October last year.

Meanwhile, the holding company’s Team Bank of America was displaced in 2015 when Interpublic’s Hill Holliday won the $1.6bn creative account.