FORD UNITES $1.1 BILLION IN U.S. MEDIA BUYING AT JWT: DEDICATED UNIT COULD BE STEP TO GLOBAL CONSOLIDATION

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Ford Motor Co. expects greater media opportunities and spending efficiencies in the wake of its consolidation last week of $1.1 billion in U.S. media buying at a new subsidiary of J. Walter Thompson USA.

JWT won the assignment without a review; Ford's consideration of the plan was first reported in Advertising Age last fall (AA, Oct 7).

Ford Motor Media, the new JWT unit, will handle buying for the Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar and Mazda brands, as well as Ford's corporate advertising and customer service division. Jaguar Cars North America is a Ford subsidiary; Ford owns 33.4% of Mazda Motor of America.

ONE VOICE SAYS ROPES

"The biggest change is we won't be negotiating with five difference sources, we'll be negotiating with one voice," said David Ropes, Ford's director of global corporate advertising and integrated marketing.

Ford's move could be the first step toward a global media consolidation, said Mr. Ropes, who will oversee Ford Motor Media from the client side.

Mr. Ropes, who joined Ford in February, said he has "strong media ties" with broadcast and cable TV networks from his previous job as senior VP-strategic marketing at Reebok International, and from past posts at Pepsi-Cola Co. and Philip Morris Cos.

"Nike always wondered why Reebok was able to capture the [1996 Summer] Olympics. I had a relationship with NBC and they didn't," he said.

JWT HAD FORD DIV. BUYING

JWT already handled the nearly $600 million media buying account for Ford Division, as well as national print buying for the Ford and Lincoln-Mercury divisions. Ford will have the option of taking advantage of The Alliance, WPP Group's newly formed network buying joint venture.

Hit hardest by the move are Y&R Advertising, Detroit, losing $245 million in Lincoln-Mercury media spending, and Foote, Cone & Belding, Santa Ana, Calif., losing $240 million in Mazda media spending.

"We're disappointed at the decision, but we're going to be doing what's in the best interest of Lincoln-Mercury Division and we'll work hard to make this thing work," said John Vanderzee, chairman of Y&R, Detroit.

Both Y&R and FCB*handled the media buying out of their New York offices, and expect staff cutbacks to be minimal.

Ogilvy & Mather, New York, will lose $30 million in Jaguar spending, while O&M, Detroit, will lose about $30 million in Ford corporate ad media spending.

Creative and media planning remain at the respective agencies, as does planning and buying for regional dealer ad groups.

PLANNING VIA STEERING COMMITTEE

Media planning will be coordinated via a steering committee with representatives from each agency and the client, Mr. Ropes said. Ford named Herb Meyers, a 25-year Ford veteran, as print media manager of Ford's new Central Media Group; he previously had the same title at Ford Motor Co. The client will be hiring a broadcast media manager, probably from the outside, Mr. Ropes said.

JWT named Senior VP-Director of Media Services Bob Mancini as senior partner-executive director of the new unit.

The new unit will probably employ about 40 people, said Peter Schweitzer, JWT president of the Americas. Ford Motor Media is likely to hire an undetermined number of staffers from Ford's other agencies.

JWT agreed its new subsidiary would be separate from the agency. So the new unit will move soon from JWT's Detroit office to Dearborn, Mich., where the carmaker is based.

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