JWT Has Ford Focus Account, but for How Long?

Automaker Reaches Out to Two Other WPP Shops for Ideas

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Ford Motor Co. is pitting JWT against two undisclosed WPP Group sibling shops for the creative portion of the launch of the freshened Ford Focus this fall.
Ford's Focus is aimed at the growing market for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.
Ford's Focus is aimed at the growing market for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

'Quest for the best'
"It's a quest for the best ideas" for Focus, said a Ford spokesman, who declined to reveal the other contenders. He said the Focus is "an important growth model for us," in part to keep reaching younger buyers, but also to satisfy Americans' growing appetite for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

Focus hits showrooms this fall for the first time as a two-door coupe, with new interiors and more standard safety equipment than the outgoing model, he said. The only other body style will be a four-door sedan.

Ford launched the Focus small-car line in late summer 1999 with a major blitz from JWT, Detroit, that included live TV commercials -- a rarity even then. The car line had been mainly aimed at younger buyers and had previously been available in a three-door and wagon versions.

Share has fallen
The car line sold well in the past, but Ford's share in the small-car segment has fallen, the spokesman said. The last time Focus was backed by national TV ads was in 2004 with the "Drive Me" campaign from JWT in which the Focus begs to be driven. Ford dealers have mainly been advertising the car via their regional ad associations, the spokesman said.

The peak U.S. sales year for Focus was 2000, its first full year on sale, when Ford said it sold 286,155 units. Focus sales in the U.S. have dropped every year since then to a low of 177,006 last year. Ford Motor spent only $3 million in measured media for Focus last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.