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Ford Motor Co. will decide within two weeks between roster agencies Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy & Mather to carry the pan-European launch of the Focus.

Focus will replace Ford Escort, which will be phased out over the next two years. The ad budget is hard to quantify, since individual markets determine their own spending. But it's expected to be much bigger than the $50 million to $80 million invested in Escort advertising in Europe in 1997. The launch is set for August; the car won't be introduced in Latin America and the U.S. until 1999.

Creative ideas have been in research for the past two months and include both pan-European and country-specific executions.


It's possible Ford may use both agencies for different markets, in an approach similar to General Motors Corp.'s Astra relaunch. But Ford has installed a brand management system in Europe, suggesting it would favor an idea that could run across the region.

In an indication that Ford of Europe management may have had trouble deciding on ad strategy, an executive close to the process said the scheduled decision date had been "a movable feast."

In Latin America, the Focus assignment is part of a bigger review in which Y&R and J. Walter Thompson Co., incumbents in Brazil and Argentina, respectively, are competing for all Ford business in those two countries.

Presentations are scheduled for next week, with a decision expected later in July.

Y&R won the Brazil account in late 1996 from a local shop that had, until 1988, teamed with JWT. Brazil is the biggest market for Ford in the region.


JWT also handles Ford in Chile, Peru and Colombia. The entire region may be consolidated, an executive close to Ford said.

JWT handles Ford Division in the U.S., and has the '99 launch assignment. The U.S. budget also is not known, but Ford spent about $75.8 million during 1996 on Escort, the year the brand was relaunched.

The global launch is strategically important to Ford. The Focus will be its first modern "world car" to be marketed in all markets in virtually the same format and under the same brand name.

Contributing: Jean Halliday.

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