Between the Lines: Why car clients prefer local

Toyota and Opel are the latest car companies to choose local agencies over their retained networks in an attempt to save themselves some money and ginger up their advertising.

Clemmow Hornby Inge (page 1) and 180 Amsterdam (page 20) are the most recent agencies to benefit, while Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners has been picking off pan-European General Motors briefs for the past 12 months.

Car clients have historically shown a surprising tendency towards fidelity, sticking to their chosen networks for years - not least because all the others already had a conflicting account.

The problem for the likes of Saatchi & Saatchi and McCann Erickson is that as markets in Europe become more homogenous, the networks are losing what has historically been their biggest strength. After all, if you don't need a different idea for each domestic market, then why should you pay for a network to work on your account?

The car companies are under extreme pressure to improve their global margins and they will continue to turn to pan-European campaigns devised by small, hungry advertising agencies until the networks can start showing them similar cost savings.

The networks find themselves in a difficult position. They either have to undercut their own prices by offering pan-European campaigns, or devise such effective creative work that they are able to charge a premium.

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