WCJ hires GM’s Dargis to run Ford

Wunderman Cato Johnson has poached General Motors’ European brand manager, Robert Dargis, to head its Ford business in Europe.

Wunderman Cato Johnson has poached General Motors’ European brand

manager, Robert Dargis, to head its Ford business in Europe.



Dargis, who has spent his entire career with GM, was secretly hired five

months ago. His new title is executive vice-president, Europe, and the

account managing director for Ford.



He will work closely with Kevin King, his counterpart at Young &

Rubicam, WCJ’s sister agency, which is handling the bulk of Ford’s

advertising after prising the European lead agency status away from

Ogilvy & Mather last month (Campaign, 17 July). He will report to Helmut

Matthies, the managing director of WCJ Europe.



’The move from the client side to an agency is not insignificant,’

Dargis said. ’The way the client side works is very clear-cut, but on

the agency side you have to be far more flexible in how you run the

business.’



Dargis has been working on the launch of the Ford Focus, the model the

company is phasing in to replace the Escort, since his arrival in

March.



Y&R is preparing an umbrella campaign for the car, which will launch in

October.



’It will be my responsibility to stay competitive and to drive

efficiency on a European basis, rather than from country to country,’

Dargis said.



’Looking at the whole through-the-line approach with a client the size

of Ford is fascinating, and the Focus will be huge.’



Y&R won the Focus launch after a head-to-head pitch with O&M in early

July. The win was the immediate precursor to the decision to make Y&R

Ford’s lead agency in Europe, a move which involved a series of further

account wins for Y&R. The agency picked up responsibility for the Ford

brand across Europe, as well as for the Ka, Fiesta, Explorer and

Windstar accounts. It already handled the Galaxy, Puma, Lincoln and

Cougar.



The accounts won in July are estimated to carry billings of pounds 100

million in Europe and pounds 25 million in the UK.



O&M still handles the pounds 13 million UK Ford Dealerships account, the

pounds 11 million UK Mondeo work and the Ford Escort until it is phased

out in the year 2000.



WCJ handles all of Ford’s car brands below the line.



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