WPP may have avoided losing the Ford Motor Co. account altogether, yet the automaker's choice of BBDO as lead creative agency is a financial and psychological blow to WPP and its dedicated Global Team Blue unit. While WPP retains significant business from Ford, the move marks a seismic shift for a holding company whose agencies have had ties to the automaker since 1943.
In an internal memo to employees sent today from Satish Korde, CEO of WPP's Global Team Blue, obtained by Ad Age, the agency reacted with disappointment to the decision and tried to reassure staff.
Global Team Blue internal memo from CEO Satish Korde
Today WPP Group LTD was informed that we have been named the global brand activation agency for Ford Motor Company. WPP, through its global Ford agency GTB, will handle all the digital, media buying and planning, and production aspects of the Ford advertising business. This also includes Tier II advertising work in the U.S., the China advertising operations with the joint venture partner, all Lincoln advertising, and all the Ford public affairs businesses. WPP/GTB did not, however, retain the omnichannel or creative portion of the business.
WPP/GTB will work with Ford for a smooth transition of the brand creative work that will be handled by a different agency over the next several months, which was the outcome of the agency review begun earlier this year. WPP is assessing the impact and implications of this decision, which cannot be fully determined until more detail is known.
As you all know, we gave this review everything we had: it was an extraordinary effort by the entire global team over many, many months. We accept this difficult decision with our heads held high and thank everyone for their contributions.
GTB has been Ford's trusted partner for decades, having stood with it in both good times and crisis. We have conducted ourselves with loyalty, pride, honor and above all, outstanding work. We are by no means done as we continue to deliver on multiple fronts.
We will convene at 10 a.m. EST tomorrow (Tuesday) for a Townhall meeting in the Creative Lobby in Dearborn – which will also be live streamed globally – during which we will provide as much detail as possible around the latest news from Ford.