WPP just loves inventing new agencies from within its extensive resources (boss Sir Martin Sorrell clearly thinks his biggest clients don’t want to share his company’s talents with the hoi polloi) and now it’s going to create another in New York for Ford’s embattled luxury Lincoln brand.
WPP-owned JWT has traditionally taken the lead in ‘Team Detroit,’ set up to handle WPP’s biggest account ages ago, but that process of specialisation has moved on since with WPP forming the ‘Blue Hive’ agency to handle the launch of Ford’s first truly global car, the new Focus.
Ford itself is motoring nicely under former Boeing boss Alan Mulally, avoiding the need for US government bail-outs that afflicted General Motors and Chrysler and announcing recently that it was to return to paying shareholder dividends. But Lincoln is struggling to compete with the likes of Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes in its home market and now even Chrysler is trying to but into the market with its revamped 300.
It also won’t have escaped Mulallys attention that British-based Jaguar/Land Rover, which it unloaded to India’s Tata conglomerate three years ago, is making buckets of money in export markets. As well as the Far East and India these include the US, where people are much keener to buy Jaguars and Land Rovers than they are Lincolns.
WPP will announce the name of its posh new agency and the management line-up, presumably, at a posh lunch in New York on Thursday. The company reasons that New York not Detroit is the centre of the US luxury market (whatever Eminem and Wieden+Kennedy say).
But reviving Lincoln is rather a daunting brief. Mulally might be wishing he’s hung on to Jaguar and Land Rover.