WPP’s dedicated Ford agency GTB will have a new leader as it tries to regain its footing after losing a sizable chunk of the automotive account.
The Dearborn, Michigan-based shop on Thursday announced Digitas executive Robert Guay as its new CEO, replacing Satish Korde, who will become chairman emeritus “assisting Ford on strategic projects around the world,” according to a press release. Kim Brink will stay on as chief operating officer, reporting to Guay.
Guay held the executive VP title at Digitas and was managing director of the Publicis Groupe agency’s Boston and Detroit offices, with involvement on accounts including Aflac, Liberty Mutual, General Motors-owned GMC and several Procter & Gamble brands.
GTB, originally called Team Detroit, was formed as a Ford-dedicated agency in 2006 as a joint venture of five Ford agencies: JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Y&R, Wunderman and Mindshare. It later changed its name to Global Team Blue before rebranding as GTB. The shop for years was considered a successful example of single-client dedicated agency, a model that was pushed by former WPP CEO Martin Sorrell.
But GTB took a major hit in October when Ford hired Omnicom’s BBDO as its lead global creative agency while giving several high-profile North American assignments to Wieden & Kennedy. GTB hung on to some significant chunks of the account, including media planning and buying, shopper marketing, CRM and so-called "tier 2" dealer advertising.
Guay’s automotive experience includes leading the digital account team for Cadillac in North America while at Fallon Minneapolis. His charge is to now keep WPP from losing any more of the Ford business, which remains a major revenue driver for the holding company.
WPP CEO Mark Read in the press release called Ford “our biggest client worldwide.” He added: "Robert's leadership credentials, automotive experience and understanding of the role of technology in marketing will ensure that Ford continues to benefit from the very best of WPP as we reshape our offer around its needs."
Guay said: "As someone who deeply respects the legacy and promise of the Ford brand, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with these clients and the bright minds at GTB to help chart the future of mobility.”