Ford Dealers Shift Into Reviews

The Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Ford dealer co-ops have placed their combined $15-20 million advertising accounts into review.
Each dealer association has issued its own request for proposal, and sources close to the process said that the District of Columbia account amounts to more than $10 million while Baltimore’s advertising budget is approximately $5 million.
Two weeks ago, three regional Ford dealer groups in Texas with a combined $30 million in advertising spending awarded their accounts to J. Walter Thompson in Detroit. JWT, Ford’s national agency, was assigned the business after shops in Dallas and Austin, Texas, were informally screened.
The regional business is part of the $80-100 million worth of Ford dealership advertising work that W.B. Doner & Co. in Southfield, Mich., resigned last month to take on the national account of Mazda North American Operations.
Doner’s Baltimore office has handled the Baltimore and District of Columbia Ford dealerships and will continue to steer those businesses until a new shop is selected. The same Doner shop will also be working on the Mazda ad account, according to officials with the agency.
Ron Bortnick, chairman of the Washington Ford Dealer Association, declined to comment on the substance of the account review, except to say that the process began at the end of November and will take 90 days from start to finish. Other sources familiar with the process said a number of regional shops plan to participate.
The request for proposal received by shops inquires about image and retail advertising experience. Questionnaires were scheduled to be returned to each member of the search committee by Dec 10.
In addition to serving the automaker nationally, JWT handles 48 of the 63 Ford dealer groups in the U.S. The agency is also expected to be a contender for all of the dealer associations resigned by Doner.