Ford Expected to Move Land Rover to Y&R

Land Rover is expected to give 90-day notice to GSD&M within the next two weeks and move its $50 million account to Young & Rubicam, sources said.

GSD&M’s contract for Land Rover in North America extends to December 2003, but a “no-cut” clause ended on June 30. That means the Austin, Texas-based agency is now subject to a standard 90-day notification for termination [Adweek, Jan. 14]. When Ford Motor Co. purchased Land Rover from BMW in May 2000, the automaker agreed to honor the current contract with GSD&M, which won the business in March 2000.

Y&R handles the Land Rover account in the rest of the world. Overseas billings could not be determined. The agency has been angling for the U.S. portion for some time, sources said. Officials at Y&R, which also handles about $500 million in Lincoln Mercury and Jaguar billings for Ford, declined comment.

The business will move to the agency’s Irvine, Calif., office, sources said, since that is the client’s North American base as well as the locale where Lincoln Mercury is handled. Y&R’s New York office steers Jaguar, although work for that brand is also done out of Irvine.

A Land Rover representative declined to comment, saying, “GSD&M is our agency right now” and “We do not comment on rumors.” Jon Williams, Land Rover North America’s vice president of marketing, did not return calls.

A GSD&M representative said, “We’ve talked to the client as recently as [Friday] and they told us that no decision has been made. Until we hear directly from them otherwise, we’ll continue to work on their business.”

U.S. Land Rover sales are healthy, with an increase through May of 54 percent over the same period a year ago.