Grey Worldwide has triumphed in the tug-of-war with WPP to snatch Seat’s £50m international advertising business.
The appointment follows the takeover of Cordiant Communications by WPP. Bates, the advertising agency which handles the Seat business, is to be disbanded as part of the takeover.
Both Ford and Seat’s owner Volkswagen are understood to have raised strong objections about conflicts of interest in WPP. Ford and its Jaguar, Volvo, Range Rover and Mazda marques all use WPP agencies.
Grey will now have to set up operations in Barcelona, where Seat wants to base its advertising headquarters.
Grey is understood to have aggressively pitched for the business, going so far as to pre-shoot a free campaign to impress Seat bosses. WPP is also believed to have fought hard to retain the Seat account and a special agency in Barcelona was mooted.
Fiat-owned Alfa Romeo, whose creative agency is Red Cell, is the only car brand outside Ford to have an agency within WPP.
Volkswagen has devolved marketing responsibilities to its individual brands following the departure in April of Robert BÃÂ¼chelhofer, who was head of sales and marketing, after a disagreement with chairman Bernd Pischetsrieder. Volkswagen has sought to position the Seat marque as the sporty brand in its portfolio.