WPP-owned Team Detroit’s new boss David Murphy has to be good at politics as well as selling Fords

WPP is famous for creating bespoke agencies for its clients (the latest is Plus for Chanel) but the daddy of them all is Team Detroit for Ford, a Dearborn-based operation that comprises people from six WPP agencies and handles all the car giant’s ad activities in the US, apart from luxury brand Lincoln.

This is handled by a newbie bespoke agency Hudson Rouge that’s based in New York, presumably on the basis that New Yorkers can better afford Lincolns than the natives of Detroit.

Team Ford has just poached Saatchi & Saatchi LA president David Murphy (left) to do the same job at Detroit, although he will report to Hudson Rouge boss Mark LaNeve, who also glories in the title of COO of Global Team Ford.

And, in case that’s not complicated enough, GTF also, presumably, includes Blue Hive which is the bespoke WPP agency handling Ford outside the US.

On the face of it, it seems odd that that there all these WPP entities working for Ford. Why not have one?

Ford has made great efforts recently to align its models in the US and the rest of the world, particularly Europe. So there are versions of the European Fiesta and Focus on sale in the US now. But, along with most of its mass market rivals, Ford is struggling (failing actually) to make money in Europe at the moment. So it’s not inconceivable that the company may pull out of Europe. The US car market, by contrast, is booming.

Which may be one reason why its various WPP-base marketing entities are kept separate. Another, of course, may be that WPP is being careful to disbar the possibility that Ford could decide to take its in-house agency in-house, in the sense of actually owning it.

Team Detroit employs over 1,000 people in 20-odd offices scattered around the US (most in Dearborn) on around $1bn of advertising business. But these bods come from WPP agencies JWT, Young & Rubicam, Wunderman, Ogilvy, MEC and MindShare while WPP remains their employer.

So new broom Murphy, who started his business life as a branding consultant, has two demanding masters to please.

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