NEW YORK -- Audi of America has begun a review of its digital agency business, people familiar with the matter told Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News.
The pitch is part of a routine process that Volkswagen's luxury brand initiates every few years, industry executives said. Audi last reviewed its digital business in the summer of 2010. It named AKQA its digital agency of record in early 2011, shifting its business to the large, then-independent shop from smaller Denver-based independent Factory Design Labs.
AKQA, now owned by WPP, is defending the business, according to people familiar with the matter.
The agency declined to comment. An Audi spokesman did not respond to a message left Wednesday seeking comment.
AKQA's scope of work for Audi runs the gamut from digital marketing to Web development and products and services. The shop was responsible for the introduction of AudiUSA.com, which went live last June, and has since worked on a number of mobile and app development initiatives.
Another early initiative the shop spearheaded, according to a case study on its Web site, was the "Road Frustration Index" -- a digital map meant to help drivers anticipate road conditions by continually picking up factors like driver sentiment, weather and infrastructure in 30 cities.
The automaker also tapped Interpublic Group's Huge in May 2013 to support its social media initiatives, including content generation, internal processes and its social media platforms. And it often uses additional agency partners for digital and social content efforts, such as WPP media agency Mediacom and IPG brand communications and PR shop PMK/BNC.
Audi spent $126.6 million on U.S. measured media in 2012, the last full year of available spending data in the Ad Age DataCenter. Sibling brand Volkswagen spent more than double that amount in 2012, and sibling Porsche spent only $23 million, bringing the total for parent Volkswagen to $545.8 million. That's slightly more than the $527 million the company spent last year, according to Kantar Media.
Shareen Pathak contributed to this report.
You can reach Alexandra Bruell at firstname.lastname@example.org