- Ford named Wieden + Kennedy as its lead global creative and brand strategy agency, shifting work that had previously been handled by BBDO over to the independent agency, news that was first reported by Adweek.
- BBDO will continue to handle customer-relationship management duties for Ford in the U.S. and WPP will lead activation, according to the company. The automaker has said all three agencies will play a role in its multi-agency team going forward.
- The move is part of an effort by Ford to streamline its global marketing business under one creative agency and create efficiencies, the company confirmed in a statement provided to several outlets.
Ford’s move is part of a larger trend that has seen big brands looking to create efficiencies and effectiveness in their marketing by consolidating agency partnerships. In 2020, Coca-Cola launched a review of all of its media and creative agency relationships in a bid to “align the strategic, operational, and commercial needs” of its digital transformation.
The Ford news comes as auto ad spending was one of a few bright spots in September, increasing 6% amid a broader slowdown, according to a recent report from Standard Media. With ongoing inflation and growing fears of a recession, brands across sectors have started to cut their ad spends. The overall slowdown has so far lasted four months through September, which could lead to more consolidation of agency assignments as marketers look for ways to keep costs under control.
For Ford, the latest round of agency musical chairs may have been in the works for some time. In 2018, Ford shifted lead creative duties to BBDO and named W+K as a “creative and innovation partner,” according to Automotive News. However, the publication reported that W+K has handled most of the high-priority advertising in the U.S. and in 2020 “quietly promoted” the agency as its lead creative shop.
W+K’s work for Ford has included using “Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston as a spokesman, proclaiming that the company is “building” for the future and strongly implying other car companies mostly just “talk.” The agency and brand evoked a similar tone earlier this year when a spot for Ford’s F-150 Lightning EV truck took a shot at competitors who were “the loudest — the ones who want to tear things down, and then fly away on their own personal spaceships.”
At the time of the 2018 shift, WPP had held global creative duties. The holding company continued to handle media planning and buying, as well as some multicultural marketing and brand-specific creative duties for Lincoln.