One of the side effects of the rush to digital has been a new wave of digital agencies, some of which appear to have the potential to be global players, challenging the hegemony of the ad holding companies. The UK’s Next 15 is one, as is Croud.
Last year Croud bought social agency Born Social which has just landed Ford’s European social account, wresting it away from WPP’s VMLY&R. WPP used to handle virtually all Ford’s advertising but that’s been gradually chipped away with first BBDO then current incumbent Wieden+Kennedy winning its creative advertising although WPP still handles media (probably the biggest part), activation (whatever that means) and production.
LDC-backed Croud also hired forner Dentsu Aegis boss Jerry Buhlmann as non-exec chairman. Buhlmann knows a thing or two about acquisitions, from his time at Carat and then Dentsu.
Born Social will work on Ford’s ‘Charge around the globe’ campaign featuring explorer Lexie Alford, which maybe hasn’t had the social impact Ford hoped for.
Ford Europe marketing director Peter Zillig says: “Ford has huge social marketing ambitions as we shift to put it central to all of our marketing activities. Following an in-depth pitch process, we found Born Social was clearly the leader in strategic vision, engaging creative and European reach.
“As Ford aims to lead the conversation around electrification as our next phase in our history, we look forward to working with them as our strategic social brand-building partner.”
Born Social CEO Ben Tyson says: “Ford is on an exciting journey and we are completely revved up about being their European social agency as they look to tell ground-breaking stories for their ground-breaking cars. We are looking forward to being their partner as they travel towards full electrification and beyond.”
The big Western carmakers are facing a number of daunting problems as they rush towards electrification, chiefly a battle to reduce their costs as they anticipate an invasion by cheaper Chinese brands, similar to the incursion made by Japanese makers and the 1960s and 70s. The US UAW union has recently called its 13,000 workers in Detroit out on strike.
This is a corrected version of an earlier story.