The Munich-based independent communications agency will officially take on BMW China's account for all above-the-line advertising, below-the-line events and CRM work from 1 January 2015. But the win excludes digital duties.
Managed by Roth Observatory, the competitive pitch started in June 2014 with Y&R Beijing and Lowe Beijing making it to the final round.
Reportedly, the new lead-agency contract is for three years and worth up to US$5.62 million (RMB35 million) annually. The scope covers the entire BMW model portfolio in China, including the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, X, Z4 and M series, as well as the company’s new electric vehicle BMW i.
Alice Mei, vice president of marketing at BMW Brilliance Automotive, was the main decision-maker. Serviceplan was one of several agencies the brand already worked with in Germany before the pitch.
China is now the automaker’s single biggest market by sales. Therefore, as key industry observers close to the deal point out, it makes sense for the brand to choose an agency in China that has linkage back to the client's German headquarters. That kind of continuity could be beneficial.
Part of Publicis Groupe, incumbent Leo Burnett held the account for the past five years, since May 2009. Campaign estimates the BMW team at the agency has at least 50 staff.
"As an agency we gained a lot and are grateful for having the opportunity to support BMW on their brand building efforts in China over the past five years," said Donald Chan, Group CEO, Leo Burnett China. "We are also proud of the work we have jointly developed that drove the growth of the brand in the market during this time. We wish BMW and their new creative partner all the success in their journey ahead."
Serviceplan, led by managing director Roger Strack, started its first office in China only 18 months ago. A team with prior automotive experience, including chief creative director Kathrin Guethoff and general manager Lee Wing Kee, will serve BMW.
Guethoff was previously executive creative director of Interone China, which also worked for BMW, and Lee was head of account management of Lintas Beijing responsible for Audi for four years before joining Serviceplan.
Separately, a media agency review is currently underway for BMW China.