Robert Sawatzky
Nov 28, 2018

Cheil Greater China gears up for Volkswagen

Beijing-led team was named one of VW's three global ‘powerhouse’ agency holding companies.

L to R: Cheil Group’s Flip Soree, Pully Chau, Jochen Sengpiehl and Cheil's Jason Byun after the global pitch presentation in June.
L to R: Cheil Group’s Flip Soree, Pully Chau, Jochen Sengpiehl and Cheil's Jason Byun after the global pitch presentation in June.

Cheil Greater China is wasting no time in getting down to business after being named the winner of Volkswagen’s brand business in China, following a global review.

The agency has already hired some of its lead international creative roles for the business and is now selecting some of its top talent out of its Beijing-headquarters to relocate them to the client’s site, CEO Pully Chau tells Campaign Asia-Pacific.

“They really want people who are very innovative, out-of-the-box in their thinking and people with an international perspective who know cars inside out,” Chau says.

In China, Cheil already has global automotive experience through its work for Infiniti and has also worked locally with Volkswagen's FAW Chinese joint-venture, which helped win this pitch.

Volkswagen’s global review lasted eight months, with the automaker eventually naming two Omnicom teams to head up global branding in Latin America and Europe, and WPP to handle the North American business. Cheil China was named VW’s fourth global agency ‘powerhouse’ after a pitch that ran from May to October. Each regional team is to house between 100 to 200 employees.

The integrated marketing mandate combines top-level branding creative, including TV and above-the-line campaigns, along with experiential events and exhibitions, digital and data analytics and PR. Unlike local advertising, the work will focus on VW’s high-level ‘mega-brand’ intiatives about design, innovation, technology rather than individual products and promotions.

Chau says Cheil’s holding company structure was key to securing the win.

“Cheil Worldwide is not just a network or an agency brand. If you look at all the work we’ve done with Samsung, we have media under one roof, we have retail brand experience, PR, and we’ve managed the sales force for Samsung, and we have ecommerce as well. We’ve demonstrated with Samsung and Infiniti that we can do it under one roof.”

“After a network pitch among leading network and holding companies, Cheil impressed us the most through their integrated approach and great performance in strategic insights, data driven integration, creative concepts and a new operational model,” said Kuo-Hi Lee from Volkswagen Passenger Cars, who heads up the China branding partnership with Cheil.

Volkswagen says it wants to improve its marketing efficiency by about 30% by 2020.

While branding initiatives are at a global level, VW is also looking to gain a more direct relationship with car owners and potential buyers.

Jochen Sengpiehl, CMO of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand.

“Thanks to our new sales model, we will be in a position to communicate direct with the customer in the future," Jochen Sengpiehl, Volkswagen Passenger Cars CMO, said in a release. "In the past, direct contacts were largely a matter for the dealers. In future, we will personalize our offering to a far greater extent than has previously been the case.”

After 2020, a new personal customer ID will be introduced to VW’s brand sales system to create an individualized customer experience, which means a larger role for analysing and integrating consumer data in branded initiatives in the future.

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