The biggest review of the year was just decided — Ford’s $4 billion pitch, which the auto giant called in the spring.
The news wasn’t great for incumbent WPP, but it could have been a lot worse. The holding company’s creative agencies have handled the account since the 1940s (starting with JWT).
The holding company lost the global creative AOR, but WPP retained a huge chunk of the Ford business, including media planning and buying, shopper and performance marketing, website development, CRM, multicultural and so-called “Tier 2” Ford dealership advertising.
The big winner was Omnicom’s BBDO, which won global creative duties, supplanting Global Team Blue, WPP’s dedicated agency to all things Ford. Wieden + Kennedy was also a winner — Ford added the indie agency to its roster as “innovation partner for specific projects.”
W+K clearly impressed Ford during the review process. In August, Ford chose the agency to create its new fall campaign in the U.S., which bows this month.
Actually, it is kind of amazing that WPP agencies retained the Ford creative business as long as it did. I mean, 75 years. Really?
The auto business has been rocked over the past decade. GM and Chrysler both needed a bailout from the government during the financial crisis of a decade ago. Earlier this year, Ford said it was basically going to stop marketing sedans in North America to focus on SUV’s, trucks and commercial fleets.
Given that seismic shift in strategy, maybe the time is right to switch up its creative agency mix.
A fresh pair of eyes can’t hurt and it’s not like BBDO is a neophyte in the auto category. It was the creative agency for Dodge for decades, and more recently serviced the Mitsubishi and Mercedes accounts.
It will be interesting to see what the Omnicom shop comes up with. My guess is we’ll see pretty quickly how Ford assesses the work. It won’t be decades, given the warp-speed pace at which change occurs in the marketing world today.