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WPP loses Ford global creative to BBDO but retains media buying

WPP has lost one its largest and most prestigious creative accounts, Ford Motors, to BBDO, ending one of the longest partnerships in advertising.

But it has retained Ford’s advertising in China with its joint venture partner, along with media duties.

WPP initially won the Ford account 75 years ago and subsequently created dedicated Ford Motors agencies.

WPP was put on notice in April when Ford launched a global review of its creative agencies.

In Asia, Ford worked with WPP’s dedicated bespoke Ford Motors agency, GTB which rebranded from Blue Hive in 2017.

The regional hub was led by Paul Grubb, a creative veteran of Publicis and Lowe.

While the loss of one of its biggest clients is a major blow for chief executive Mark Read so early in his tenure, it avoided the worst-case scenario of losing everything. Ford retained WPP for media planning and buying, digital and production, in addition to its advertising in China.

A WPP spokesperson said in a statement: “Over the past five months, WPP has been working with Ford Motor Company on its future marketing and advertising relationships. At the conclusion of the review, WPP will be responsible for activating the Ford brand through key channels and regions, through its global Ford agency GTB as well as other WPP agencies, while Ford has appointed another agency as its lead creative agency.

“WPP agencies will continue to handle activation, including media planning and buying, digital and production. These responsibilities also include Tier Two advertising work in the U.S., the
China advertising operations with its joint venture partner, all Lincoln advertising, and all the Ford public relations business.

“WPP will work closely with Ford on the shape of its future relationship and the impact on its people.”

BBDO Asia Pacific has been approached for comment.

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