Clarification: Following the initial posting of this story, Alain Visser, senior vice president of Volvo, said the automaker’s search for a “global lead creative agency” only impacts incumbent Arnold Worldwide’s global creative duties, not its U.S. account.
NEW YORK -- Volvo Cars has put its global creative account into review.
The Swedish automaker, controlled by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said it is seeking a global agency that can "focus and strengthen the brand communication worldwide." Incumbent creative shop, Havas-owned Arnold Worldwide, has been invited to defend the business.
The review does not affect Arnold's U.S. account, Volvo said.
A winner will be selected by this fall. Other shops, such as PR agency Haberman, in Minneapolis, are not impacted by the pitch.
"We are in a time of transformation and we have a very interesting journey ahead of us, further enhancing brand perception through innovation, a new model program and an improved customer interaction," Alain Visser, senior vice president of sales and customer service, said in a statement. "It is therefore a good time to review our future needs in order to sharpen Volvo Cars' brand communication moving forward."
Volvo last restructured its agency relationships in December 2011, when it bucked the auto industry trend of using a "team" agency approach. The automaker dismantled its "Team Volvo" structure that was an alliance between three agencies: Arnold Worldwide, SapientNitro and what was then called EuroRSCG 4D.
Its budget is small compared with automakers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors. Volvo spent about $80 million on U.S. advertising in 2012, according to Kantar Media. The company, which changed hands from Ford to Geely in August 2010, has been experiencing a sales slide. It suffered a 6 percent global sales drop in 2012, though it posted a small increase last year domestically.
After posting a 1 percent increase in 68,117 vehicles sold in 2012, Volvo's year-to-date U.S. sales were down 6 percent to 25,900 units through May, according to the Automotive News Data Center. The Swedish car maker posted a U.S. sales high of 139,000 vehicles in 2004.
With the global auto market finally rebounding from the economic recession, several carmakers are searching for new creative shops. General Motors' Cadillac is expected to pick a winner this month to handle its $250 million creative account.
Porsche recently decided to stay with incumbent Cramer-Krasselt after a review for its $20 million business.