Ford switches creative ad agency work to BBDO from WPP

UPDATED: 10/8/18 3:34 pm ET – adds details

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co., following a five-month review of its advertising efforts, said BBDO will replace longtime partner WPP as its lead creative ad agency.

However, WPP will retain a role in what Ford calls a new multi-agency advertising model. WPP will continue to lead advertising efforts for its Lincoln luxury brand, and will head initiatives such as media planning, media buying, website development and other roles, Ford said in a statement Monday. Its Hudson Rouge company will continue to lead marketing efforts for Lincoln.

Additionally, Ford has added Wieden + Kennedy as a creative partner for specific projects, including a new ad campaign that will launch in the fourth quarter.

BBDO will begin transitioning to its new role on Nov. 1, Ford said.

The new advertising model will bring Ford $150 million in efficiencies a year, the automaker said without giving further details. Ford also plans to add 100 global in-house marketing positions.

“Ford already is one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world,” Joy Falotico, Lincoln group vice president and Ford chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “In this pivotal moment of reinvention and transformation, we’re excited to partner with world-class creative agencies to unlock the full potential of the iconic Blue Oval.”

The news comes amid CEO Jim Hackett’s companywide reorganization efforts. Ford said earlier this year it was targeting $25.5 billion in cost cuts, with half of that coming from sales and marketing, including reduced advertising.

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Ford confirmed to employees last week that it was planning an undetermined amount of cuts to its global salaried workforce.

The company is preparing to overhaul its North American product portfolio as it transitions away from cars to pickups and utilities. By 2020, it plans to have the freshest lineup in the industry with new vehicles including the Ranger midsize pickup, Bronco off-road SUV and a long-range battery electric crossover.

WPP predecessor J. Walter Thompson helped Ford create the tagline “There’s a Ford in your future!” in 1945.

Nearly 75 years of history

Ford has worked with WPP since Dec. 7, 1943, when the agency was known as J. Walter Thompson. Ford soon after developed a new tagline in 1945 that said: “There’s a Ford in your future!” 

In more recent times, the agency in 2006 created a Ford-specific entity called Team Detroit, which was later rebranded as GTB. WPP has roughly 3,000 people dedicated to the account and routinely brings in agencies outside of GTB to work on the business.

WPP is partnering with Wieden + Kennedy on the fourth quarter ad campaign, which Ford will show at its national dealer meeting this month in Las Vegas. The campaign is expected to be called “Ford Proud.”

Ford is the nation’s seventh-largest advertiser, shelling out $2.4 billion in 2017, according to the Ad Age Datacenter. Globally, Ford reported advertising costs in 2017 of $4.1 billion.

“Today is a big big day,” BBDO Worldwide CEO Andrew Robertson said in a statement. “We have a wonderful new brand to help build. I could not be more proud of the hundreds of people around the world who made this happen, or more grateful to Ford for their confidence in us.”

AdAge reporters E.J. Schultz and Megan Graham contributed to this report.

 

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