J. Walter Thompson has created a new corporate unit, Automotive Retail Marketing Inc., that has been named agency of record for all of Ford's emerging "auto collection" dealerships across the country.
Steve Brown, who remains executive vice president and general manager of JWT's Detroit office, will head the new company, a wholly owned JWT subsidiary.
The unit, scheduled to be in full operation by Jan. 1, will handle Ford's new auto collection dealerships, which are being bought and organized by the Ford Investment Enterprises Corp.
Under the program, Ford will buy out the individual dealerships of all five Ford brands (Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda and Jaguar) in a selected market and consolidate them into one massive dealership that markets, sells and services all the brands. Small agencies that previously handled business for individual dealers are shut out under the new plan.
So far, Ford has organized the new retail system in Tulsa, Okla., and plans to open auto collections in Oklahoma City and Rochester, N.Y., by Jan. 1. Those three cities will generate billings of about $8 million for JWT, sources said. Ford's plans call for the collections to be up and running in major cities nationwide within the next five years.
When Ford initially announced its auto collection plan, the automaker's agencies--JWT, Young & Rubicam, Ogilvy & Mather and W.B. Doner & Co.--formed a consortium charged with developing ideas for advertising a new approach and improving customer satisfaction.
The post represents a change for Brown, who until now has not been involved in JWT's Ford business.