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Ford: No Production Roadblocks

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LOS ANGELES Ford Motor Co. on Thursday said it has secured bids from several production companies to produce its next commercials despite widespread opposition to its recently issued cost-cutting guidelines.

"All the boards out have been bid successfully and assigned under the new guidelines," said Paige Johnson, manager of global market public affairs at Ford, Detroit.

Johnson would not identify the directors and production companies that had agreed to work on new commercials but said the company is satisfied that it has found the partners it needs to produce the spots.

One Santa Monica, Calif.-based company, BeachHouse Films, said it bid last Thursday for a spot for the Ford Freestar and was awarded the job the following day by WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit.

JWT production executive Carole Gall confirmed the assignment, adding that it is the only Ford job the agency has out right now. WPP's Young & Rubicam also represent Ford and associated brands.

"We stipulated on the agreement that this was a one-time only deal," said Dave Coulter, BeachHouse principal and executive producer. "The biggest change in the deal is that they want to supply all the film, the processing and the telecine." Coulter said he pegged the markup on the spot (described as a relatively simple "car on a stage with a spokesman" shoot) at around 25 percent, not the aggregate 14 percent estimated by numerous production companies who've recently refused to bid Ford boards. "It's not a bad deal because there is no travel involved. I can see where if there were, the guidelines would be unworkable."

Larry Carroll, a former art director at JWT, will direct the spot, Coulter said, with Kevin Ward as the director of photography. Carroll, who is not a BeachHouse roster director, has done work for Chrysler and Ford in the past, and Coulter said he'd directed a series of Dodge spots with the actor Ed Herrmann as spokesman. Carroll did not return calls.

Coulter said he stipulated one-time only participation in the Ford guidelines because he's hesitant to break ranks with production companies refusing boards. "I don't like [the guidelines], and I don't think it is going to work, but we'll let it play out," said Coulter. "We're all worried about setting trends that will affect us in the future."