Ford Motor Company is considering a global review of its agency networks in one of the most radical rethinks ever carried out by the car giant.
Three WPP-owned worldwide agency networks - J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam - are under scrutiny in a review which could see the Detroit-based company overhauling its system of maintaining agencies on a regional basis in favour of globally aligned agencies by brand.
A major restructuring of Ford's global operations, initiated by the chief executive, Jacques Nasser, took effect earlier this year and is thought to have precipitated an agency rethink.
Global alignment would enable Ford to strengthen its brand campaigns while achieving greater economies of scale and boosting creative firepower. The decision is believed to rest with Jim Schroer, the vice-president of global marketing at Ford, who was unavailable for comment as Campaign went to press.
JWT handles Ford's main brand work in the US, while in Europe the task is shared between Y&R and O&M. JWT also handles the car maker's luxury brands such as Jaguar outside the US, while O&M handles it in the US.
The dealer advertising is with O&M in Europe, and with JWT in the US.
MindShare is Ford's European media agency. Ford Motor Media, a JWT subsidiary, handles US media.
Land Rover, which was purchased by Ford from BMW in May, is up for review globally out of WCRS, which handles the conflicting BMW account.
It emerged this week that the Land Rover review has widened to non-WPP agencies. Grey Advertising, Wieden & Kennedy and HHCL & Partners have also been asked to pitch after initial presentations from JWT, Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R and O&M. Sources with knowledge of the review believe Land Rover may have broadened the search because Ford does not want to place all its advertising in WPP agencies.
Separately, Kevin King, Y&R's European account director on Ford, is leaving, prompting sources to question the future of Y&R's relationship with Ford. King is to join WPP's Global Communications Group where he will head the global Jaguar account and co-ordinate three agencies: O&M in the US, JWT in Europe and the rest of the world, and Y&R's direct marketing agency, Impiric, which handles below-the-line work for Jaguar.
King's Ford responsibilities at Y&R will be handed to a team of four Y&R directors led by Satish Korde, the vice-chairman of Y&R Group.