Audi of America confirms that it is in the midst of a review for its estimated $100 million ad account.
McKinney of Durham, NC has done, I thought, a pretty credible job on Audi with its "Never Follow" campaign.
Audi sales have been trending up, and the cars have been gaining in credibility among luxury car buyers and the auto press. Even some die-hard rear-drive enthusiasts I know have defected from Mercedes and BMW for front-drive Audis.
But recently installed marketing honcho Scott Keogh had no ties to Audi and saw an opportunity to see what McKinney can do with a new client and a blank piece of paper, but also get the thinking of three top-drawer creative ad agencies. Challenging McKinney, which has had the business for 13 years, are Fallon Worldwide, Bartle Bogle Hegarty and San Francisco based Venables, Bell & Partners. Not a bum in the lot.
If I had a chance to hear strategic and creative strategies from those three, I'd have called a review to.
If I question anything about McKinney's work is that the broadcast and print ads havent brokeen through the din of luxe car ads very well. I'm a big believer that full engagement is 99% of the job here. That means the creative work has to be arresting and the media plan has to be damned clever.
McKinney got a lot of notice a year or so ago with a very involved online campaign for the A3, "The Art of thr Heist." It was an online serial about a stolen car that involved real-world events, fake ads in newspapers and magazines, online clues and websites and TV ads. The effort won top honors at the MIXX Awards in September 2005.
As clever as it was, I thought it might have been almost too clever, and complex, by half. But I give them credit for pushing to invent new media ideas.