TOKYO - Nissan Motor Co. is close to signing a contract that will consolidate its $1.1 billion global advertising account at TBWA Worldwide.
TBWA will manage the assignment from Tokyo through a joint venture with Hakuhodo. Robert LePlae, account director for Nissan at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, California, will relocate from the USA to Tokyo to steer the global business.
A spokeswoman for Nissan's Infiniti division said TBWA will handle advertising globally for both the main Nissan brand and the luxury-car division, pending final negotiations and approvals by executives in Tokyo.
The consolidation grew out of a desire by Nissan's new chief operating officer, Carlos Ghosn, to have one decision point for global account management and to build a global image for the automaker.
TBWA and Hakuhodo agencies will continue to handle creative business from local offices around the world.
The Interpublic Group of Cos. agency now known as Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide is also believed to have made a pitch for the business with sibling media shop Western Initiative Media Worldwide. But Lowe apparently backed out after its merger with Ammirati Puris Lintas to avoid a conflict with General Motors Corp.
Hakuhodo currently handles Nissan advertising in Japan and non-English-speaking Asian nations. TBWA currently handles Nissan in North America, South Africa and countries such as Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand.
In Europe, TBWA has handled Nissan with Hakuhodo in a decade-old joint venture headquartered in Amsterdam. That venture handles Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the UK.
With the global consolidation, TBWA adds Germany and Italy, as well as Latin America, the Middle East and Canada.
The global consolidation may not represent a huge billings increase for TBWA since it already handled Nissan in many areas of the world. But it does consolidate the agency's ties to the marketer at a time when many observers believed the relationship was vulnerable. The win is also important to TBWA's goal to be viewed as a strong global network rather than a loose collection of agencies around the world.