Automotive brands change lanes on agency partnerships

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Analysis of the major advertising and media account moves of the week. Keep up with the latest client reviews and pitches here.

We explore this week’s account wins, including a string of new agency hires announced from the automotive sector.

Digital agency Dept, German strategic agency Ketchum and Accenture Interactive’s comms house Kolle Rebbe have formed an alliance to serve their new joint client, Smart Europe.

The new enterprise, Smart Flux, will be taking over all comms efforts in Europe immediately and has been tasked with promoting Smart’s new SUV range.

According to a statement: ”All the agencies will work like a virtual company, with the joint responsibility for efficiency and the management of the budget towards joint KPIs for the optimum result.”

An established brand in the European compact car category, the German auto marque was first established from a collaboration between Daimler AG and watchmakers Swatch. 30 years on, the firm hopes to capitalize on increasing consumer interest in electric and hybrid vehicles.

It’s also interested in updating the way it reaches out to potential customers; according to a statement, Smart says it’s committed to shifting its marketing from traditional means to ”a customer-centered, data-first, hyper-personalized approach.”

Björn Schick, director of customer experience and executive board member at Smart Europe, said: “We consequently follow our direction to take a new path – disruptive, integrated and success-driven. We take the set-up very seriously and our aim is to establish a long-lasting partnership where we are on eye-level. In the Smart Europe organization, there are no silos around digital, marketing and PR to ensure a holistic end-to-end experience – and that’s also the case at Smart Flux.“

Josephine Gerves, managing director at Dept, said: “Agility, speed and transparency, while focusing on end-to-end experiences that combine technology and marketing, is rare to find. It’s great that together we can enable Smart to build this bridge to achieve their business goals. Working in a truly collaborative team, where everyone thinks beyond the horizon of their own discipline, is refreshing, fun and inspiring.”

Retailers and insurers shift gears

Not a car manufacturer, but a retailer, Pendragon – the British company that owns dealership brands Evans Halshaw, Stratsone and CarStore – announced this week it has appointed the Maverick Group as its full-service agency-of-record.

The agency bagged the account following earlier strategic work carried out during 2021, including refreshing its corporate branding and repositioning Pendragon’s e-commerce capabilities.

Kim Costello, chief marketing officer for the firm, said: “The agency gave us outstanding support as we adapted our operating model through the early Covid-19 period and we have many more exciting plans for the future – [with] upcoming consumer campaigns, an internal refresh and exciting plans for our motor business all in the works.”

Another automotive-adjacent account win this week came from the insurance sector. Direct Line Group (DLG) has selected Saatchi & Saatchi as its lead creative partner on Churchill after it was impressed by the agency’s work on the core Direct Line brand.

The account was held for the last 16 years by Engine Group, though that agency held on to the brief for DLG’s breakdown insurance brand Green Flag following a competitive review.

Su Karki, marketing chapter lead at Green Flag, said: “We were incredibly impressed through the review process with the agency’s vision to engage our existing customers and deliver our ambitious plans to drive customer acquisition. We continue to challenge the breakdown category, engaging our customers, people and partners, focusing on raising industry standards and offering incredible value.”

Moves you may have missed

  • Performance and influencer marketing agency Digital Voices picked up three new clients this week – SaaS company Autodesk, personal finance app Plum and a little-known California tech firm called Meta.

  • Indie creative agency Quiet Storm has joined Engine on the UK government’s advertising roster, meaning it can now compete for public sector work.

  • Chessington World of Adventures, one of the theme parks owned by Merlin Entertainment, has appointed Smarts as its British PR agency.

  • The Singapore Tourism Board has appointed Publicis’s Shophouse team (which includes agencies BBH, Zenith, Digitas and Prodigious) to handle its integrated media and creative account. The business is worth $73m.

  • Travel services platform Trip.com has appointed Fifty-Five, the data and analytics consultancy owned by Brandtech Group (née You & Mr Jones Group).

  • Viceroy Riviera Maya, a luxury resort hotel in Mexico, has appointed Boldspace to handle its PR and social accounts.

  • Healthcode, an IT firm specializing in the private healthcare sector, has appointed M&C Saatchi to develop a new brand identity.

  • Purveyor of football gear and giant drinking vessels Sports Direct has appointed Pitch Marketing Group as its retained PR agency.

  • Indian sports supplement brand MuscleXP has appointed Chimp&z Inc as its digital marketing partner.

  • Manchester digital agency Pixel Kicks has been selected by coffee brand 92° and brewer Joseph Holt; it’s set to create a new e-commerce presence for the former.

  • Edu-tech firm Kaplan has appointed digital marketing agency Embryo to boost its audience engagement.

Want to tell us about your new agency appointment? Email Sam at businessonthemove@thedrum.com.