J. Walter Thompson continued its march toward total dominance of U.S. Ford dealership groups last week, being named agency for the South Florida Ford Dealers Association.
JWT's Detroit and Atlanta offices topped three Florida competitors for the $15-20 million account: The Ad Team, North Miami; BSP Group, Miami; and St. John & Partners, Jacksonville. Incumbent Cooper HMS did not defend.
Sources said JWT made two offers in its pitch no other contender could match and the dealers could not refuse: a 9 percent commission and a guarantee that running footage set in South Florida would be used in television commercials.
A JWT representative said the commission fee was incorrect, but agency area management director Tony Accurso confirmed, "We promised to make sure creative looks like the [local] market."
Accurso said the agency will open a South Florida office to serve the SFFDA, led by account supervisor Claudia Lezcano from JWT in Dallas. Accurso called Lezcano an "expert on the Hispanic side of the business . . . We [will] have a presence in the market that [reflects] the diversity of the market."
Lezcano, who speaks fluent Spanish and grew up in South Florida, said, "There is a very dynamic market in South Florida and we will obviously address all segments within that market."
The new office may have up to 20 people, Accurso said, and be located in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area.
The win gives JWT 53 of the 63 Ford dealer associations in the U.S. SFFDA's membership includes 28 dealers in the Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers markets.
Mike Hooley Sr., chairman of the SFFDA in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., confirmed JWT's win, but was otherwise unavailable for comment.
--with J. Dee Hil