M&C Saatchi sports arm picks up Audi sponsorship as parent continues to work on rival Lexus

M&C Saatchi has managed to win a slice of the Audi business through its specialist sports and entertainment division, despite the parent agency being the creative lead on the Lexus account – a direct rival to Audi.

M&C Sports & Entertainment has already worked on Audi’s Hawthorn sponsorship

Mumbrella has learned Audi appointed M&C Sports & Entertainment to the business three months ago in a move that has been given the approval of one of Audi’s biggest direct competitors and a division of Australia’s biggest selling car maker’s, Toyota.

While unrelated, the move by Audi to appoint M&C S&E to handle the car maker’s sponsorship properties came at almost the same time Audi hired former Toyota CMO Brad Cramb as its new head of sales.

Cramb’s departure from Toyota came as hundreds of marketing and sales staff at the brand decided not to follow Toyota in its move to Melbourne at the end of the year.

M&C S&E, which operates as a separate agency to it’s parent, M&C Saatchi, has already completed a project for Audi promoting its sponsorship with AFL club Hawthorn, with a spokesperson for the agency confirming Audi was now a client.

Sources with knowledge of how Toyota supplier contracts operate told Mumbrella the car maker has clear guidelines on suppliers working with rival brands.

However, Lexus operates as a completely separate division with its own marketing department and lines of reporting.

A spokesperson for Lexus said the brand was aware of the agreement and had done due diligence before the association with Audi was given its approval.

“We are aware that M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment is working with Audi in this market,” the spokesperson said.

“We have a range of agency partners and an internal team to manage our sponsorship and events portfolio. Lexus does not employ the specialist agency M&C Sport & Entertainment.

“As you know, Lexus works with M&C Saatchi’s advertising agency. These are separate businesses, in separate locations and with separate teams. They have been a trusted partner for several years and we’re comfortable with this.”

Audi’s creative account is held by 303 MullenLowe, which last year helped to kick off the sponsorship with Hawthorn with an ad featuring players kicking goals from rooftops in the middle of a cityscape supported by the line “Greatness Never Rests”.

M&C S&E parent agency M&C Saatchi created a groundbreaking campaign for Lexus three years ago which used outdoor billboards to identify the cars people were driving past in and urged them to try Lexus. Promotions for the campaign included targeting Audi drivers.

“Hey white Audi driver, it’s time to Crossover. This is the New Lexus NX,” the digital billboards flashed up when a white Audi drove past.

Audi’s appointment reunites the car maker with the M&C brand after the agency worked with Audi in the mid-2000s.

Work by the agency included a campaign promoting Audi’s sponsorship of the Australian Open golf tournament.




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