Aston Martin sounds out UK agencies

WPP's global grip on the Ford business has loosened as the auto giant's Aston Martin subsidiary is looking beyond the group for its advertising.

The carmaker is thought to have appointed a small German agency to produce creative work and has been talking to UK specialist shops.

WPP's J. Walter Thompson is to remain Aston Martin's agency of record.

But executives at the firm are said to be concerned that their business is overshadowed by Jaguar, a sister brand in the Ford stable. JWT also has its account.

Aston Martin, whose flagship Vanquish model sells for £160,000, was making only 42 vehicles a year in the 90s and promotion of the brand has been restricted mainly to owner club communication, PR and corporate videos.

But, under its German-born chief executive, Ulrich Bez, the firm is undergoing a makeover and an expansion. It plans to double its dealer network to 150, with new showrooms in 50 countries, to be modelled on stores such as Gucci and Giorgio Armani.

The developments coincide with the growth of the luxury car sector in Europe and the US, where it has outshone the mainstream market.

However, the luxury market, which is dominated by Aston Martin and Bentley, is not expected to sell more than 20,000 cars in the US annually.

To try to boost its global sales from 1,500 to 4,000 a year, Aston Martin plans a new model - code-named AM305 - which will sell at up to £75,000 and turn the brand into a more potent rival to Porsche and Mercedes.

No-one at Aston Martin was available for comment as Campaign went to press.

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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).