4-Way Fight for Ford Dealers

South Florida Association Seeks Successor to Cooper HMS
ATLANTA–Four shops pitch this week to succeed Cooper HMS Partners Advertising as agency for the $15-20 million South Florida Ford Dealers Association’s ad account, according to sources.
The contenders are: The Ad Team, North Miami, Fla.; BSP Group, Miami; St. John & Partners, Jacksonville, Fla.; and J. Walter Thompson, Detroit. Cooper HMS is not defending.
The Ad Team has extensive auto dealership experience, including the two Florida Chevrolet Dealers Association accounts before Chevy consolidated the business. St. John & Partners already handles Ford advertising for several regions in the South and Pittsburgh. JWT, corporate agency for Ford, has been snapping up local dealer accounts. Representatives for all four contenders either did not return phone calls by press time or declined comment.
According to South Florida sources, SFFDA placed the account into review in January after the incumbent’s president and chief executive officer, Ric Cooper, had an acrimonious ex-change with his shop’s executive vice president and director of client services, Bob Doyle. It resulted in Doyle leaving the Coral Gables, Fla., shop and the SFFDA following him out, said sources.
“[The SFFDA] notified us in January that the account was going into review. We declined to participate,” said Cooper HMS Partners director of communications Tim Dodson. “Whether [Doyle’s leaving the agency and SFFDA going into review] was a cause and effect situation, I am not qualified to say.”
Cooper was unavailable for comment. Doyle did not return calls by press time. Mike Hooley Sr., chairman of the SFFDA in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., did not return calls, but Mike Hooley Jr., who works with his father at Plantation Ford in Fort Lauderdale, said the SFFDA would not comment.
Sources said Doyle, who has a strong relationship with Ford dealers, will be part of the package no matter which agency wins the business. K