DETROIT -- The "change or die" mantra of Ford Motor Co. has reached the parent company of its largest advertising agencies.
The WPP holding company is restructuring the Detroit offices of its agencies that work for Ford. It has created a "one-stop shop" that it calls Team Ford. Although the agencies will remain independent, they will combine talent, pool resources and work under the same roof.
The new organization will be based across the street from Ford's headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. It has units devoted to administrative, media and brand-experience services.
Team Ford President Satish Korde, 56, says he has issued three mandates to the Detroit offices of WPP agencies JWT, Y&R and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide:
"People know the situation," Korde told Automotive News. "It's not like we don't know (Ford's U.S. market) share has been going down. The challenge is to not let it pull you down. Ford will experiment," Korde says. "Ford will take risks. We don't have to do the old formula stuff."
WPP has nearly 1,200 employees in Detroit. The move to Dearborn is scheduled for completion by year end.
The Detroit heads of two of the three agencies are relatively new to their jobs. George Rogers, 45, joined JWT Detroit as president last May. Paul Venn, 48, became head of Y&R's Detroit office last October.
"Their charge is very clear," Korde said of the agency heads. "They have a mandate to absolutely deliver the most stunning product."
WPP says the consolidation will enable the ad agencies to cut costs and work more closely with their largest client. It gained urgency in light of Ford's "Way Forward" plan, which will close 14 plants and cut 30,000 jobs.
Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, says his company seeks "a laserlike focus on our customers and brands. . . . Having all of our (ad) agency partners in one building will provide the collaboration we need to help make it happen."
Ford Motor spent $757.5 million to advertise in U.S. media in the first half of 2005, TNS Media Intelligence reports. That is a 13.9 percent increase from the year-ago period. A full-year estimate is not available.
WPP's Korde declined to discuss the cost of the Team Ford restructuring plan. He says he seeks changes in the agencies' cultures that will break down barriers and generate new marketing initiatives and creative ad content.
"Just give me big ideas," Korde says. "There are no boundaries."
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