Early problems for WPP’s Read as Wieden+Kennedy muscles in on Ford account

Any relief Mark Read might have felt when his appointment as CEO was confirmed won’t have lasted very long as he’ll also be newly aware that Ford, WPP’s longest-standing account if its 43 years with JWT are counted, has appointed Wieden+Kennedy to handle its forthcoming fall campaign.

Ford is currently handled by WPP’s Global Team Blue (GTB) but announced a review in April. Omnicom’s BBDO is also pitching for the long-term business.

WPP/GTB can hardly grumble at the review; Ford has got itself into a mess by producing the right cars (SUVs) in the US too late and making a continued hash of its European business. The days when everyone in the UK had a Ford at some stage in their driving career are long gone although the Fiesta is still the best-selling UK model. Ford has just discontinued the Focus in the US thanks to Donald Trump’s trade war.

GTB can’t do much about all this but it can hardly be said that the Ford brand is riding high.

W+K has become the default agency in the US for big companies who have, belatedly usually, decided they need some creative stardust on their business. KFC, for whom it brought back the Colonel, and Bud Light are two such examples. P&G has also funnelled a fair amount of work its way. Omnicom’s BBDO is also a formidable competitor, smarting from losing Mercedes in some markets to Publicis.

Ford may decide to opt for a roster solution, giving WPP the chance of retaining some work as it did in the recent Shell review.

If Read can retain the lion’s share of Ford he’ll be due the thanks of Parliament and an earldom to add to his new CEO status.

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