Who’s moving up at WPP? Ford men Satish Korde and George Rogers for starters

Mumbai-born Satish Korde is to be the new CEO of WPP’s Team Detroit, the agency CEO Sir Martin Sorrell set up six years ago to handle the network’s biggest account, Ford.

His predecessor, George Rogers, is going off to be global business development director of WPP, which may be a promotion, or not.

Sorrell has spent his 25-year career at WPP trying to prove to clients that ad agency assets don’t go up and down in the lift (when they do he tends to sue them) and that a big holding company like WPP can put together teams from across its multifarious agencies to handle their business better than any one agency could.

To date this policy has not been massively successful with Samsung, Dell and, to a degree, HSBC dumping the arrangement (embarrassingly so in the case of the 1,000 strong Enfatico agency that WPP set up for Dell, which came and went in just two years).

But Team Detroit, an agency set up to handle Ford comprised of bits from JWT, O&M and Wunderman chiefly, does seem to have worked.

Maybe this is the Dearborn Factor. Ford, Chrysler and General Motors are still loyally situated in the posh Dearborn suburb of very un-posh Detroit, a throwback to the days before the railways when the Great Lakes were the way you shifted raw materials and finished goods around the United States.

But if you want to handle this business you’ve got to be there.

And Ford is absolutely fundamental to WPP.

It used to be said, correctly, that the most important guy at JWT was the Ford account director, not whoever was supposed to be running the agency (often they were one and the same of course).

And, arguably, the most important person at WPP now is the guy running Team Detroit.

Who happens to be an Indian, Satish Korde. Just today Sorrell bought yet another agency in India, Mindset, based in Hyderabad.

So is Satish being groomed to be the heir apparent to 65-years old Sorrell?

Well you never know. Although Sorrell will probably go on until he’s 90.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

One comment

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    The author’s understanding of geography and wealth leaves a bit to be desired. Dearborn, Michigan is rarely called posh, except by those with no familiarity with, or understanding of, the area. Nor is it home to either General Motors or Chrysler. Makes one wonder what else he might have gotten wrong.