DETROIT - Ford Motor Co. rocked the magazine community last week by eliminating nine magazines and publishing houses from its media buys.
The cuts will be effective in the 2000 model year, starting in the fourth quarter.
Ford declined to reveal the ad dollars involved. But the company is one of the nation's biggest magazine advertisers. Last year Ford spent about $300 million on magazines and $1.1 billion in total measured media, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
Automotive News estimates the cuts amount to at least 10 percent of Ford's annual magazine spending, based on information from various sources. The company is not saying whether the changes cut overall media spending; shift spending to other media, such as the Internet; or both.
'What we're seeing here is a strategy shift due to the changes in the marketplace and a proliferation in media and our ability to reach consumers in other ways,' said Mark Kaline, manager of media services at Ford corporate's Central Media Group.
He declined to discuss what criteria were used to drop the magazines.
SHIFT OF CONTROL?
The publishing houses involved were surprised by the size of the cuts and by the abrupt way Ford executed the changes.
Kaline said his group made the decision and discussed it with ad managers at each vehicle division, but not with its ad agencies. Each agency has media planners who recommend to Ford's internal media unit, Central Media Group, and the automaker's dedicated media buyer, Ford Motor Media in Detroit, which media they want to buy for specific models.
Two executives, one inside and one outside Ford, who both asked not to be named, said the move signals Ford's Central Media Group's tightening of control over media planning. It signals a shift of control from the divisions and their ad agencies, they said.
Last fall, Ford's Central Media Group signed its first multiyear deal across all of its brands with two publishers, Hachette Filipacchi Magazines and Time Inc. Detroit carmakers traditionally shied away from multiyear deals.
'The issue isn't control,' said Kaline. 'It's taking a look at what's in the best interest of Ford Motor Co. and what we know about our divisional needs.'
He declined to confirm the names or number of publishers cut from the 2000 model-year media schedule.
Those losing Ford business, according to sources close to the situation, are: Walt Disney Co.; Hearst Corp.; Washington Post Co.'s Newsweek; News Corp.'s TV Guide; Meredith Corp.; Reader's Digest Association; Smithsonian Institute's Smithsonian; Gruner & Jahr; and U.S News & World Report.
Automotive News contacted four magazine sales representatives affected by the changes. They all declined to comment for publication.