Ogilvy & Mather was told by Ford Motor Co. in "no uncertain terms" that it was in trouble in Europe, one source said last week, but, "they didn't believe it."
Ford, however, said its shift of more than $200 million in assignments from Ogilvy to Young & Rubicam was the result of a reorganization of its marketing on a brand-by-brand basis, as opposed to a country-by-country basis, and solid work from Y&R on certain models. Don Hume, manager of the automaker's global news bureau in Europe, denied that it stemmed from a dissatisfaction with Ogilvy.
Other sources told a different story.
At one point, Ogilvy dispatched some U.S. executives to London. They were were "horrified" to discover how precarious the situation with Ford in Europe had become, a source said, and the London shop didn't seem to realize. For instance, in the past two years, Ogilvy produced two ads widely perceived as being racist; one appeared this year.
Another source said the shift had been in the works for a year but came to fruition two or three weeks ago when Y&R was awarded the launch of Focus, a $100 million assignment.
"The work [Y&R has] done [for Ford Galaxy and Ford Puma] has been tremendous and clearly had an influence," said Hume. "But it doesn't take away from the efforts of [Ogilvy]. They still retain a large share of the business, and they're getting some additional responsibilities in [Germany,] Europe's biggest market."
Y&R now has the Ford and Lincoln brands plus the Ka, Fiesta, Focus, Galaxy, Windstar, Explorer, Puma and Cougar. Ogilvy takes the Escort, Mondeo, commercial vehicles and European dealers. Ogilvy parent WPP Group retains all European media buying. The moves do not affect U.S. assignments. --with Michael McCarthy