In a bid to reinvigorate the brand, WPP is creating a new boutique agency for Ford’s Lincoln luxury model, the client and holding company have confirmed. The as-yet-unnamed agency will be based in New York and will be open for business effective Jan. 1.
The move comes as Ford tries to “reinvent” the Lincoln brand. Sales have lagged recently for the model. Last month, sales dropped 18% versus a year ago to just over 6,300 cars, according to industry statistics.
WPP has handled the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands of the carmaker for years through an entity called Team Detroit, based in Dearborn, Mich. The unit combines the efforts of a number of WPP shops, including JWT, Ogilvy & Mather, Mindshare, Y&R and Wunderman.
Team Detroit employs about 1,000 people, according to the holding company, and about 100 of these work on the Lincoln business.
Now, Lincoln will be handled separately through the new agency, although it will report into Team Detroit. Going forward, Lincoln will have about the same number of people working on it via the new shop, with about half based in New York and half in Dearborn.
Automotive consultant Cameron McNaughton will head the agency as president, WPP confirmed. He will report to Satish Korde, CEO Team Detroit. Jon Pearce will serve as chief creative officer. Most recently, he was with Bartle Bogle & Hegarty’s New York office.
"We're reinventing the Lincoln product and ownership experience and working to make it a unique, compelling proposition for today's luxury customer," stated Jim Farley, group vice president, Global Marketing, Ford Motor Company. "Assembling a talented, Lincoln-only creative agency team, in partnership with Team Detroit and WPP, to build this brand is an important next step in our plan."
The new agency’s team in New York will focus on account management, creative development, and media and strategic planning, Ford and WPP said. Support departments for Lincoln, such as client accounting, digital programming, media buying and creative production, will remain with Team Detroit in Dearborn.
Commenting on the new agency, WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell called it "a logical next step" in the agency's relationship with Ford.
McNaughton has ample car experience. Prior to joining WPP, McNaughton founded and ran McNaughton Automotive Perspectives, which offered marketing consulting services to automotive manufacturers, dealers and their communications agencies. MAP clients included Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Hill Holliday, Hyundai, Mahindra, MicroMass Communications, Porsche, Publicis, Strawberryfrog and Vale Euro RSCG.
Prior to that, he was a partner at McKinney & Silver, which he joined in 1994. He's credited with building and leading the agency team that helped Audi of America to rebuild its U.S. business. Earlier in his career, McNaughton also worked on Mercedes-Benz and BMW accounts at different ad shops.