We Hear: Ford to Re-Examine Its Relationship with WPP in 2018

By Erik Oster 

Ford appears to be re-examining its relationship with WPP’s dedicated agency GTB going into 2018.

A client representative provided the following statement:

“We value the talented and creative men and women at WPP. They are trusted partners and curators of the Ford brand. As we are across the Ford business, we are exploring options to improve the fitness of our marketing and advertising operations. No decisions have been made.”

Representatives for both GTB and WPP deferred to the client.

It’s unclear if “exploring options” refers to a potential formal review, but the statement seems to indicate that Ford will reassess its relationship with the agency in some capacity and that unspecified changes are being considered.

Last month, the auto giant promoted Kumar Galhotra to CMO. Former CEO Mark Fields was replaced by James Hackett, who had run the company’s Smart Mobility division, back in May.

GTB has faced a series of setbacks this year. Longtime chief creative officer Toby Barlow left the Ford-dedicated WPP unit back in February, and the agency brought on TBWA veteran Tito Melega to replace him in September.

SVP, director of platforms and partnerships John Gray then went to Pinterest this spring before the agency laid off between 100 and 150 employees over the summer. Earlier this month, we also learned that Dwayne Raupp, who co-lead GTB’s invention design studio, Kinetic Optimism Studio, had left the agency to become executive creative director at Huge Detroit.