Infiniti set to name CP&B as its global advertising agency, report says
NEW YORK -- Infiniti is set to tap Crispin Porter + Bogusky as its global advertising agency after a drawn-out review, people familiar with the matter told Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News.
Although a final contract has not been signed, the move would end Infiniti’s relationship with TBWA, which has been the Japanese luxury carmaker’s agency since the late 1990s. TBWA was knocked out of the running during Infiniti’s review, but the agency will continue working on the account until next year. Crispin Porter + Bogusky, also called CP&B, is owned by holding company MDC Partners Inc.
TBWA also works with Infiniti’s sibling brand Nissan, which it will continue to do through Nissan United, an alliance formed late last year to handle Nissan’s global branding, advertising, media buying and marketing. Nissan United includes TBWA, OMD and Interbrand and is led by the Omnicom Group.
TBWA has been working with Nissan for nearly 27 years.
The four finalists in Infiniti’s review were CP&B, Publicis Groupe’s Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and MDC Partners’ Anomaly. In the end, Inifinti’s attention focused most on CP&B and Goodby, according to people familiar with the review. Omnicom-owned OMD is the media agency for Infiniti.
A spokesman for Infiniti declined to comment. Spokespeople for all the agencies mentioned either declined to comment or did not respond by deadline.
The agency move comes amid major changes in Infiniti’s executive leadership. Johan de Nysschen, Infiniti CEO and chief architect of the brand’s turnaround attempt, left in July to become president of Cadillac. BMW executive Roland Krueger was named de Nysschen’s successor in September.
Rumblings of the review, which was handled by marketing consultancy Roth Observatory, began more than 10 months ago after Infiniti began having conversations with agencies. The competing agencies didn’t receive requests for proposals until this spring, and Infiniti narrowed the contenders to the four finalists this summer.
Michael Bartsch, vice president for Infiniti's North American business, told Automotive News in January that Infiniti is determined to be perceived as a distinct car line, completely separate from Nissan.
"We've been working with Omnicom for the past 10 to 15 years, and they've done a fantastic job for us," Bartsch said. "But this is part of the separation process of making sure we're not perceived as the 'Nissan-plus' brand.
"There is a bleeding of styles between the brands. It's hard to avoid. An agency that's focused so intently on Nissan can't simply turn its attention to us and think in a completely different creative way."
Vincent Gillet, Infiniti's Hong Kong-based vice president of marketing, played a key role in the review, according to people familiar with the process. Allyson Witherspoon, director of marketing at Infiniti USA, was part of the core team, the people said. The U.S. market accounts for more than 70 percent of Infiniti’s global sales, Witherspoon told Ad Age earlier this year.
Automotive News staff contributed to this report.
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