Porsche is the world's best-known luxury sports car marque, a name that is instantly associated with supreme automotive design. Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen, it has defied the accepted formula of high volume production to establish a gold-plated reputation as the definitive automobile status symbol. The introduction in 2002 of its first SUV, the Cayenne, pushed volume sales to new highs; these have been reinforced by two more admired models, the Macan and Panamera, and more recently the Taycan all-electric sports car, launched in 2019. As a result, sales volumes topped 300k for the first time in 2021 at almost 302k. Revenues for 2019 were €28.5bn including financial services. China is now the brand's biggest market, accounting for close to a third of units (87k in 2019). The Cayenne and Macan each accounted for around a third of volumes. Another key contributor to the group's success was the fact that, until recently, it was a family-controlled business. Its exceptional profitability very nearly allowed Porsche to force a reverse takeover of much larger rival Volkswagen, with whom it already had long-established historical ties. It was Ferdinand Porsche who had designed the prototype "people's car" that was to lay the foundations for the newly launched Volkswagen business after the Second World War. That relationship allowed the Porsche family to establish strong links with the Volkswagen Group over the next 50 years. In a series of deft corporate manoeuvres in the mid 2000s, the family holding company managed to become the dominant force in that massive automotive empire. Yet, the huge debts it built up in the process threatened to bankrupt the business in the subsequent global economic crisis. As a result, the two companies did indeed become a single entity, but it was Volkswagen rather than its smaller cousin that took the upper hand in the combined business. Volkswagen took control of the Porsche sports car business, although the family's corporate entity Porsche SE remains the combined group's biggest shareholder. In the subsequent "Dieselgate" emissions-cheating crisis, it was Porsche's CEO Matthias Mueller who was chosen to take control of the entire group following the dismissal of Martin Winterkorn. Yet he too was ousted three years later after losing the support of the Porsche family. Oliver Blume is now CEO of the Porsche division.
Last full revision 15th June 2020
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Historical profile information for Porsche
Adbrands Update 23rd Feb 2022: Volkswagen confirmed it is in advanced negotiations to issue an IPO of some of its shares in the Porsche automobile division. It requires the agreement of its biggest shareholder, the Porsche family holding company. A partial float of Porsche cars would generate significant additional cash to fund the wider group's continuing push into electric vehicles.
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Jan 2020: "The Heist". Of all Volkswagen Group's brands, Porsche is the one least noted for top notch advertising. There are just one or two exceptions - notably the Ali vs Ali spot from five years ago - but otherwise you'd be hard-pressed to name-check a single other memorable spot from the world's most popular sports car. Compare that record to, say, stablemates Audi or Volkswagen, who between them churn out one or more great ads every other week. Clearly, US agency Cramer-Krasselt doesn't often get the chance to let rip for its longstanding client; but here's one of those rare occasions: Porsche's first Super Bowl ad since 1997. The results are great fun, a fine opportunity for the carmaker to show off its heritage - a Porsche tractor even! - and rip-roaring entertainment in its own right. With a cool punchline too. Job applications to work as a Porsche security guard just went through the roof. Let's hope we don't have to wait another five years for the next Porsche special.
Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Apr 2018: Volkswagen Group's supervisory board ousted CEO Matthias Mueller, and appointed former VW brand leader Herbert Diess in his place. No reason was given, and the press statement claimed that Mueller's departure was "by mutual agreement". However, according to insiders, Diess has for several months, and without Mueller's knowledge, been proposing a widespread reorganisation of the group. Diess "began pressing shareholders quietly to oust Mr Mueller and put him in charge," said the Wall Street Journal, quoting people familiar with the situation. Newly appointed as CEO, he made that strategy public this week. "In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed," he said, unveiling a reorganisation of the group into five divisions. The biggest will comprise the mainstream brands VW (light trucks and vans as well as passenger cars) alongside Seat and Skoda. Porsche will head a new sports car group alongside Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley; while Audi will stand alone as the sole occupant of a premium car group. Heavy trucks under the VW, MAN and Scania brands will be grouped together as Volkswagen Truck & Bus, and the group is considering a partial IPO of that unit for 2019. The fifth division is the group's sizeable financial services business.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Jun 2016: It's already looking like this year will see a round of major account reviews to match last year's "mediapalooza". One of the last hangovers from that media frenzy came to its bloody conclusion this week with the axeing of long-time partner Mediacom as global media network for Volkswagen Group's massive €2bn budget. Instead, in a triumph for Omnicom over WPP, the business will transfer to PHD from January 2017. The latter agency already manages the Porsche brand in several countries as well as other high-end marques, but it will now also take over all the group's mass-market autos, including Seat, Skoda and Audi as well as VW. Omnicom's DDB is the Volkswagen brand's main creative network. It is thought to be PHD network's biggest ever account win. In several markets, including the US, Omnicom will create a dedicated unit within the agency to handle the account.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Dec 2015: Ads of the Week "Compete". Porsche's US agency Cramer-Krasselt breaks the mould with this bold new spot for the legendary German sportscar, not previously noted for its creative advertising. With assistance from some clever digital effects, C-K puts a young Muhammad Ali in the ring against himself; Sharapova on court against Sharapova; chess champion Magnus Carlsen fighting the clock against his doppelganger; all to demonstrate that nothing beats the 911 except the new 911. Nicely done.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Nov 2015: Volkswagen Group's predicament took not one but two new turns for the worse, as the emissions-cheating scandal widened significantly. The US Environmental Protection Authority said it had also found cheat software in a new group of of previously undetected vehicles produced by the group, including the first Porsche models to be implicated. According to the EPA, a defeat device has also been discovered in 3.0 litre Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche cars with model years 2014 to 2016. At least 10,000 additional passenger cars already on the road in the US are affected by the new discovery, including four Audi models and the 2015 Porsche Cayenne.
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