JWT Seeks Sleeker Structure

“Hot Shop” Setup for Ford Account Designed to Spur Innovation
DETROIT–J. Walter Thompson is reorganizing its Ford Motor Co. staff into “hot shops” with names like “Liquid 35” and “Mind Racer” in an effort to shed its stodgy image, spur greater creativity and produce faster turnaround on work.
The restructuring is designed to make the agency “more nimble,” while maintaining the integrated capabilities of a large agency, said Mike Gonyea, JWT executive management director.
The moves were internally motivated and not a result of any prompting by Ford, agency president Peter Schweitzer said. The restructuring affects about 300 of the agency’s
600 employees in Detroit. It will not result in any staff reductions, he said.
All Ford-dedicated employees will divide into about 12 “hot shops” by areas of expertise. “Rather than have people who generalize and work on everything, we are developing little groups that specialize in different areas,” Gonyea explained.
For example, within the creative department, the hot shops will be broken into “skill and passion sets,” he said. Creative staffers will rotate among the groups, spending a year at each, said Bruce Rooke, JWT executive creative director. Each shop will have its own personality and subculture.
The design and print group has christened themselves “Red Hammer,” while the broadcast group has chosen “Liquid 35” as their moniker. There will also be a digital group, which has not yet chosen a name.
A fourth group, the “Mind Racer” team, includes some senior managers who will participate in the initial briefings and also serve as a review board for completed creative work.
The mentality in the past at JWT has been: “What do I have to do? What should I be doing?” Rooke said he wants to see a shift to “What if ,” which is expected to produce far more innovative ideas for the automaker.
The agency is also redesigning a newly acquired floor in its building. The goal of the open plan is to counter the “accounting firm” atmosphere of the other JWT office areas, Rooke said.