Mercedes-Benz awards account to Porter Novelli

MONTVALE, NJ: Mercedes-Benz has selected Porter Novelli as its new US AOR, dropping incumbent agency Euro RSCG Magnet after more than two years.

MONTVALE, NJ: Mercedes-Benz has selected Porter Novelli as its new US AOR, dropping incumbent agency Euro RSCG Magnet after more than two years.

Geoff Day, Mercedes' director of communications, said the company issued an RFP six weeks ago. The four finalists were CRT/Tanaka, DeVries, Peppercom, and eventual winner PN, who partnered with Los Angeles-based boutique The Rose Group for the pitch. Magnet did not participate.

The Rose Group will handle the entertainment and lifestyle portion of the account. Tanaka had been doing corporate philanthropy-related work for the automaker for the past year.

Day said that portion of the PR work will eventually be consolidated with PN, but that no date has yet been set for that turnover. Magnet's portion of the work, however, will be handed over to PN on January 1.

"We're kind of going into a new phase with Mercedes-Benz, across our corporate work, our brand work, and our product work," said Day. "And I think we needed an agency that could work with us across all three of those platforms."

The account, which Day valued around $500,000, will be led out of New York, with additional teams in Florida and California.

"[We wanted an agency] that understood the brand and could take it to that next level and really add value to an existing, already quite strong PR team," he said. "Out of all the people that we looked at, I think Porter absolutely demonstrated that ability clearer and more creatively than anybody else."

Mercedes' current in-house communications team consists of 19 professionals across the company, said Day.

PN president Gary Stockman said the agency is "looking at support across a number of different pillars," including corporate, CSR, and fashion and entertainment PR.

"Obviously, we're in the early stages of defining the scope of the program," Stockman said.

Magnet is itself in a transition phase following the announcement earlier this month that former CEO Aaron Kwittken is leaving the agency to pursue his own start-up firm.

"Mercedes-Benz was looking for a specific set of new skills," said Jason Schlossberg, SVP at Magnet. "We agreed that it did not make sense for us to be a part of that."

Patrice Tanaka said that her agency has worked with Mercedes twice in the past. She called it "a small but important piece of business for us."

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