A clear sign of the jitters bedevilling WPP is this statement it issued yesterday – which briefly moved the share price upward.
“WPP announces that, on 27 November 2017 in Detroit, Ford Motor Company verbally informed WPP that they are considering their future internal and external marketing model and want to enter into a further agreement with WPP for a period to be agreed in 2018.
“WPP is considering the proposal and is in discussion with Ford on next steps.”
WPP handles Ford through its GTB agency – Global Team Blue – and, as far as anyone knew, that was set in stone. But it wasn’t, it seems.
Ford has recently been ringing the marketing changes as has GTB, replacing long-serving CCO Toby Barlow with Tito Melega. These changes usually (not always) happen when the client’s getting restive. Ford has been struggling in certain aspects of its business, GTB’s work has been solid rather than inspiring but that’s not unusual in the global car business.
So is it all fine and dandy between WPP and Ford?
Not yet it seems. WPP is considering Ford’s proposal. What does that mean?
Probably that Ford is trying to drive a harder bargain, cutting fees (as its peers are doing) and, maybe, wanting to use other agencies from time to time.
With WPP’s shares down a third this year this is the last thing Sir Martin’s Sorrell’s empire needs.