EUROPEAN ADVERTISING agencies should be doing everything they can to encourage the trend toward strong brand managers in the car industry.
It has been a scary time for European agencies, thanks to two trends.
One, carmakers are consolidating their marketing and advertising operations with more and more pan-European activity.
Two, faced with new competition, carmakers have been willing to toss out old relationships and put new business up for grabs. Volkswagen and General Motors both opened their important accounts in the lower-medium segment to new proposals, and GM ended up with new agencies for the Astra: Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe and Saatchi & Saatchi.
These rapid changes toward a pan-European approach - even a global approach - come with a lot of friction and pain. At Daimler-Benz, the company jettisoned a plan to have the M-class marketed worldwide from America, guided by a single ad agency.
They moved marketing and brand responsibility back to Stuttgart.
Strong brand leadership is required to keep team members pulling in the same direction. It is ever so easy for national sales managers, agency bosses and other interested parties to spend their talents trying to protect their personal interests rather than pulling for the product.
The prize is profitability. In North America, creating a brand name that means something to consumers costs an average $159 million, and it takes $74 million a year to sustain the brand.
Europe's many nations and languages probably add 30 percent to that cost. A future with many strong brands will include much advertising.