Seat is Spain's biggest (and, in fact, now only) homegrown auto manufacturer and the top-selling brand locally since 2017. It is the smallest mass-market brand by volumes within global giant Volkswagen Group. Traditionally best known for affordable city cars led by the Ibiza and Leon, it began a reinvention in the mid 2010s with the launch of its first full SUV, the Ateca in 2016, followed by the Arona and 2018's full-size Tarraco SUV. At the same time, the Cupra brand was spun out as a standalone high performance model. However, performance has long been mercurial. The business came under intense pressure in the late 2000s as a result of Seat's reliance on troubled Southern European markets, and Spain in particular. That country's economic recovery, a more attractive model mix and a big push into international markets have underpinned solid growth since 2015. In 2019, retail sales volumes hit a new high of 574k cars, but crashed back the following year as a result of the pandemic to 427k. The Seat brand alone slipped to just under 400k, its lowest level since 2016, but Cupra edged up to a personal best of over 27k units. The Leon and Arona compact SUV are the two top sellers, with the Ibiza slipping to third place. The Spanish market accounted for a little under 20% of brand sales (73k in 2020), but Seat's single biggest market overall is Germany (110k in 2020). The UK ranked third at 46k. For 2021, there was a rebound in sales to 471k cars. The Seat corporate division is also responsible for manufacturing and sales of some other group vehicles in Spain, including selected Audi models. In 2020 the company launched its first e-scooter under the Seat Mo brand. Seat SA's divisional revenues peaked in 2019 at €11.2bn before slipping back in 2020 to €8.8bn, and a net loss of €194m. Luca de Meo stepped down as CEO in 2020 after almost five years (to become CEO of Renault), and was eventually replaced by Wayne Griffiths. The company was founded in Barcelona in 1950 as Sociedad Espanola de Automoviles de Turismo (or SEAT for short). In 1982, it secured a license to become Volkswagen's local manufacturing partner after it lost its position as Spain's top-selling car (to VW in fact). The German group acquired a 75% stake in the business four years later, before taking full control in 1990.
Capsule checked 9th December 2021
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Historical profile information for Volkswagen Group
Adbrands Social Media 2nd Jan 2019: "Because Them, Us". Happy New Year! Seat's new campaign from dedicated DDB unit C14torce - pronounced 'catorce' or 14 in Spanish - positions the brand as a car for radical free-thinkers. If you've ever thought about working in an office, buying expensive art, joining an all-male dining club or fox-hunting, then this ain't the car for you. Oddly enough, it's the "bad" vignettes that look more interesting than the "good" ones. Stereotypes abound of course - food trucks, urban art, farmers markets - but it's hard to resist the cheek of it. It kind of makes us want to know what the flipside is. Presumably, an ad for Mercedes-Benz or BMW. As with previous campaigns, C14torce grabs your eyeballs with some striking visuals, not least that rapidly ageing office dude in the first few seconds.
Adbrands Social Media 2nd Dec 2018: Spanish car marque Seat - part of the Volkswagen Group - is ramping up its offering with the launch of a separate performance brand, Cupra, which is slowly being rolled out in a few select markets. Confusingly, its first offering shares the name of one of Seat's existing models, the Ateca. Seat's dedicated DDB-backed creative agency C14torce has unveiled this spectacular launch spot for the car, which starts out like some adrenaline-enhanced Google Earth fantasy before gradually coming in to land on terra firma. Yet more proof if proof were needed that everything looks better when seen from space!
Adbrands Social Media 6th Nov 2017: Campaigns for Volkswagen-owned Seat by DDB's dedicated C14torce agency do contain the standard gleaming cars-in-motion shots, but in most other respects they break the usual rules. There's definitely a shift towards a younger, edgier target audience, which makes a refreshing change in what has otherwise tended to become a slightly tired category. Does it work? Well only time will tell, along with Seat's sales figures, but the evidence so far is strongly positive.
Adbrands Weekly Update 5th Jun 2017: DDB's global C14torce agency unveils its debut campaign for dedicated client Seat. Non-Spanish speakers might want to note that the agency's seemingly impenetrable name is pronounced "Ca-TOR-say", which is the Spanish for the number 14. But why 14? Someone's lucky number? It's a lovely little ad, with engrossing dance moves let down somewhat by rather less imaginative auto-porn footage of the sleek new Ibiza model on the road. But then what would a car ad be if there were no car, just dancing? (Better, that's what it would be).
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