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Ford and WPP: Inside a 75-year promotion relationship

Ford switches artistic ad organisation work to BBDO from WPP

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co.’s overwhelming preference on Monday to have BBDO replace WPP as a lead artistic ad agency upends a attribute that began 75 years ago.

At that time, Ford’s organisation was J. Walter Thompson and Henry Ford still was using a automaker. WPP and a prototype constructed such noted tab lines as “There’s a Ford in your future,” “Ford has a improved idea,” “Built Ford tough” and, of course, “Have we driven a Ford … lately?”

In a automaker’s early days, Henry Ford employed J. Walter Thompson to sell Model T’s, though they split ways after only dual years. Three decades later, as Ford began formulation for his association to resume full prolongation after World War II, he was reassured that a large ad organisation wouldn’t cost some-more than a tiny one. He declared, “Well, we competence as good have a large one.”

So Ford consummated his agency, Maxon Inc., and a association sealed a initial grave agreement with JWT in Dec 1943. The organisation indeed took over some of a automaker’s promotion as early as 1942, pronounced Ted Ryan, Ford Motor’s repository and birthright code manager.

In a minute to JWT domicile in New York, Ford Motor said: “The terms settled in your minute … are acceptable and are hereby supposed … with a bargain that Ford … might during any time cancel a arrangement by combined or written notice to your company. We trust that a arrangement … will infer to be jointly satisfactory.”

The agreement was sealed by Ford purchasing manager J. Walter Thompson, who only happened to have a same name as a agency.



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In a successive decades, JWT helped Ford launch many nameplates, including a Thunderbird, Mustang, Pinto, Taurus, Explorer, Ranger and Escort.

The initial JWT debate for Ford began in a winter of 1943-44. One ad showed a hulk clear round with a caption, “There’s a Ford in your future.” Ad Age, an associate of Automotive News, pronounced a aphorism was dictated “to reflect, during least, prejudiced assent and a lifting of restraints and restrictions in municipal life” and also was “attuned” to “a quickened zeal to possess new cars.” A identical ad debuted in 1945, display a long, circuitous highway in a informed clear round captioned, “You’ll go high, far-reaching and large … There’s a Ford in your future.” Ryan pronounced a debate teased a new cars that would be constructed as a automaker switched from wartime prolongation as a “arsenal of democracy” behind to newcomer cars.

TV commercials

Ford’s initial TV ads aired in Sep 1946, according to a 1976 book The Public Image of Henry Ford: An American Folk Hero and His Company. In a early 1960s, it ran commercials for a Ford Falcon featuring a “Peanuts” gang, representing a entrance TV coming of Charlie Brown and his friends, before their now-ubiquitous charcterised holiday specials after that decade.

With a assistance of JWT, Ford denounced a Mustang during a New York World’s Fair on Apr 17, 1964, with good pushing and inhabitant promotion around newspaper, repository and TV, Ryan said. The sports car was a prodigy and popped adult in mixed stories in Newsweek and Time and even a movie Goldfinger, in that James Bond is chased by a white Mustang convertible. The new Mustang perceived the Tiffany Award for Excellence in American Design in 1965, a initial car ever to be respected by Tiffany Co., and JWT touted this feat in an ad featuring a bullion acceptance and a white Mustang.

“Ford has a improved idea” was another renouned tab line that a automaker used in a accumulation of ads. A 1968 imitation ad featured a lightbulb in place of a “O” in Ford’s name. The tab line also was used in a TV blurb for the 1968 Mustang.

“Have we driven a Ford … lately?” was maybe a many iconic aphorism combined by JWT. The campaign’s low-pitched tab line ran until 1994, scarcely 11 years after a launch. In one ad for a 1993 Taurus SHO, a core shot of a car is captioned, “Think of it as caviar for a energy hungry. Have we driven a Ford lately?”

Agency evolution

Ford’s attribute with a organisation wasn’t always smooth, though a companies managed to iron out issues that arose.

“One time Henry Ford II wanted government to glow us, though they wouldn’t,” Peter Schweitzer, JWT’s then-CEO, told Automotive News in 2003. He pronounced Ford’s lieutenants told him, “Look, they’re a best agency. Give us time and we’ll repair it.”

WPP entered a design in 1987, when it bought JWT for $566 million. In 2006, it formed Team Detroit (now Global Team Blue) as a corner try of 5 Ford agencies: JWT, Ogilvy Mather, YR, Wunderman and Mindshare.

In 2011, Team Detroit’s then-CEO, George Rogers, who combined a Ford-focused agency, said a judgment was “partly about efficiency,” with a structure that authorised a organisation to be “100 percent agnostic” about specific selling communications services and media. The corner try paid off, and a automaker was selected by Ad Age as Marketer of a Year in 2010, when Ford posted a largest distinction in some-more than a decade. In addition, Team Detroit done a 2011 Ad Age A-List of successful agencies.

“WPP is and has been a valued partner for decades, heading in a efforts to bond with a customers,” Joy Falotico, Ford organisation clamp boss and arch selling officer, told Automotive News this week in an email“WPP has grown clever campaigns over a years since they know Ford and a business really well. One good instance of this is ‘Built Ford Tough,’ that still characterizes a F-Series, America’s best-selling trucks for 41 years.” 

Officials from WPP North America declined to pronounce with Automotive News about Ford’s preference to change a lead organisation after a five-month review. Ford said it will continue to use WPP for a U.S. Tier 2 play advertising, media planning, media buying, shopper and opening marketing, website development, patron attribute selling and multicultural marketing.

Ford switches artistic ad organisation work to BBDO from WPP

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