Volkswagen, Audi Open Manhattan Flagship

Audi-Dealership

Volkswagen and Audi are busy right now, both on the ad and the retail front.

The former's global operation has signed a deal with football (soccer) star Pelé, who will be brand ambassador leading up to and including the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and then around the 2016 Summer Olympics, both in Brazil.

The campaign starts with creative showing Pelé leading a phalanx of famous footballers from his country, and touts parallels between Volkswagen and Brazilian football: Pelé represents the era of the vintage VW Beetle.

Audi and Volkswagen have also opened a paired flagship store in Manhattan. The building represents a $135 million financing deal -- Audi and Volkswagen's largest investment in a dealership real estate project, per the company.

The company cut the ribbon for the stores on May 10, with brass from both divisions in attendance. The stores are at 11th Avenue, between West 56th and West 55th streets.

Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said in a release that the city is "a vital market for Volkswagen in achieving long-term U.S. growth.”

Scott Keogh, president of Audi in the U.S., said the company is opening flagship stores and investing in facility upgrades and that "the Audi dealer network in the U.S. will continue to expand and evolve.” The company said that it will spend $5 billion in North America over the next three years to expand its portfolio and expand its retail footprint.

The new dealerships will be operated by Bridgewater, NJ-based Open Road Auto Group, which has 14 other dealerships in New York and New Jersey.

Volkswagen Group of America also has a partnership with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1 in the city. Hans Dieter Potsch, member of the Board of Directors, Volkswagen Group of America, and Glenn D. Lowry, director of The Museum of Modern Art; and Klaus Biesenbach, director of MoMA PS1, and chief curator at large at MoMA, also got together to tout the extension of the partnership, which started in 2011, through 2015.

Volkswagen had a less-than-stellar April in the U.S. The company reported a 10.3% drop in sales because of higher sales of SUV and crossovers, and the stiff competition from new midsize cars with which the older Passat competes.

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