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L.A. agency wins VW ad account

October 23, 2009 |  5:17 pm

Deutsch LA, the West Coast office of ad agency Deutsch Inc., has won Volkswagen’s coveted U.S. advertising account.

Deutsch LA replaces Crispin Porter + Bogusky of Miami, which had handled VW’s U.S. advertising since 2005.

VW+LargeThe size of the account wasn't disclosed. TNS Media Intelligence reported that VW spent $204 million on U.S. advertising last year.

That spending is almost sure to increase as the German automaker tries to make inroads into the U.S. market, where it currently holds a meager 2% market share (General Motors sold more cars in the U.S. in September alone than VW sold here in the first nine months of the year.)

“The clear intention of the company is to be No. 1 globally,” said Tim Ellis, VW’s head of U.S. marketing, “and the United States plays into that strategy in a big way.”

That strategy will include an aggressive advertising campaign that cuts across all manner of media platforms, from TV to social networking sites to mobile phones.

Volkswagen immediately becomes Deutsch LA’s biggest account, joining the likes of Sony PlayStation, DirecTV and Dr Pepper in the agency’s stable.

“This is beyond big,” agency co-CEO Mike Sheldon said. “Opportunities like this come around once in a career.”

Sheldon said the VW account will likely result in the addition of 100 new people at the agency’s 300-person Marina del Rey offices.

Sheldon said his agency plans to broaden VW’s appeal beyond its current base of hip twenty-somethings while still maintaining an aura of cool around the brand. The agency’s first work on behalf of its new client should begin appearing sometime in the first quarter of 2010, he added.

Deutsch, it should be noted, is German for “German.” Whether the agency’s VW campaign features the Teutonic accents and lingo that have plagued the automaker’s ads for years remains to be seen. Here's betting they lose the lederhosen.

-- Martin Zimmerman