Shawn Hansen, Solve

Title: Account director, Bentley Motors

Age: 40

Veteran auto advertising executive Shawn Hansen is working to infuse some American personality into the Bentley Motors brand as he leads the British luxury automaker’s account for Minneapolis agency Solve.

While Bentley starts from a strong brand position, it’s also perceived as English, Hansen said. Yet Bentley’s strongest sales are in its Americas.

“Their strategy is to bring a little more personalization to the different regions of the globe,” he said. “I guess it’s a challenge to modernize a little bit what Bentley’s image is on the left side of the pond, if you will. We’re ready to do that.”

Hansen brings more than 13 years of experience in managing the Honda and Acura accounts for RPA, an advertising and marketing agency in Santa Monica, Calif. He led communication strategies for a number of product launches, including Honda’s first move into the truck market and Acura’s entry into SUVs. Bentley is planning to launch its own SUV in 2016.

Hansen, a Wisconsin native who specialized in advertising and marketing at Lakeland College in Sheboygan, said moving his family to the Twin Cities represents a Midwest homecoming.

The independently owned Solve was named agency of record for Bentley’s Americas region in September. Solve is working with Akquracy, a database marketing firm in Minneapolis, to develop a communications strategy for Bentley. Other clients include Organic Valley, True Value Hardware, Medifast and Best Buy.


Q: What prompted you to leave California to join Solve?

A: It truly was a first-handshake, first-impression kind of experience. The other employees and people in the city know the history of the partners and what they stand for. I didn’t know about any of that. But it’s a 22-person agency that’s working on global and nationwide brands, consumer brands that I think many agencies would salivate at having on their roster. All of that impressed me about the agency.


Q: What does your Honda and Acura experience contribute to your Bentley work?

A: With any car brand, there’s a constant struggle to improve the brand image. Bentley is clearly very confident in who they are. That’s a great place to be with an auto manufacturer. Our ability to put a face and an image to that brand is something we’re getting started on for the next calendar year.\


Q: Why are big brands working with a smaller agency like Solve?

A: There’s a culture with clients where there’s a new level of speed and responsiveness that they’re looking for. It may be driven by how quickly we as consumers digest media. The other part of it is marketing managers and CFOs like to work very closely with creative teams, media teams, account teams, and Solve is that kind of place. They’re very agile.