Ford changed its CEO in the spring of 2017 when it sensed it wasn’t moving fast enough in transitioning from being just a car company to becoming a mobility platform.
Now more changes are in store for how it communicates with actual and would-be customers, as the company today announced that BBDO, which is owned by Omnicom, will be its new primary creative partner, with Wieden+Kennedy New York working on select projects.
This marks the first time since 1943, when the company began working with agency J. Walter Thompson, that Ford’s biggest ad partner wasn’t an agency now owned by WPP, a rival ad conglomerate. WPP handled all of the automaker’s advertising work with a multi-agency team dubbed Global Team Blue. In a statement, Ford said that it’s also creating more than 100 new in-house marketing positions tied to brand design, media tools and partnerships, digital labs, and more, and this new structure will result in $150 million in annual efficiency savings.
“Ford already is one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world,” said Joy Falotico, Ford group vice president and chief marketing officer, in a statement. “In this pivotal moment of reinvention and transformation, we’re excited to partner with world-class creative agencies to unlock the full potential of the iconic Blue Oval.”
According to AdAge, Ford is the seventh-largest advertiser in the U.S., spending $2.4 billion domestically, and $4.1 billion globally. It had been WPP’s largest client. The agency holding company, which has been going through plenty of changes of its own in recent months–dumping founder Sir Martin Sorrell, naming new CEO Mark Read, and merging agencies VML and Y&R, among them–will still retain some part of the Ford business, such as media planning and buying, customer relationship management (CRM), and shopper marketing. The only positive spin for WPP is now it might be free to pursue other automotive clients, and is already throwing its hat in the ring for VW’s ad business.