Ford has put its global creative account into review, putting incumbent WPP on the defensive at the same time it searches for a new CEO.
The account, now held at WPP's Global Team Blue, has been under strain for months as the automaker began re-evaluating its marketing model as part of a larger "fitness" initiative that includes slashing $14 billion in spending on materials and engineering in the next five years. Now Ford is taking the next step by formally putting the account up for bid. An RFP is expected to be released next month.
In a memo issued Friday, Detroit-based Global Team Blue notified employees of the pending review. "WPP will have an opportunity to compete with other firms to retain these portions of the business, and will remain Ford's agency of record in some other key areas," GTB CEO Satish Korde stated in the memo. Excluded from the review are Ford's China business, public affairs, the U.S. dealer business and Ford's luxury Lincoln brand, now parked at WPP's Hudson Rogue, according to the memo. "We will be enthusiastically responding to Ford's request for review in the days ahead, and have every confidence we will retain a substantial proportion, if not all, of the business under review," Korde stated in the memo.