Land Rover Shift to Y&R Nears

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

GSD&M’s contract for Land Rover in North America extendsto December 2003, but a “no-cut” clause terminated on June 30. That means the Austin, Texas-based agency is now subject to a standard 90-day notification before being terminated [Adweek, Jan. 14].

When Ford Motor Co. purchased Land Rover from BMW in May 2000, the automaker agreed to honor the advertising contract with GSD&M, which won the business in March 2000.

Young & Rubicam handles the Land Rover advertising account in the rest of the world. The agency has been angling for the American portion for some time, according to sources.

Officials at Young & Rubicam, which also handles roughly $500 million in Lincoln-Mercury and Jaguar billings for Ford, declined comment last week.

The Land Rover business will be moved to the agency’s Irvine, Calif., office, sources said, since that is also the client’s North American base from which the agency’s Lincoln-Mercury advertising account is handled. Young & Rubicam’s New York office steers Jaguar, although work for that automotive brand is also performed in Irvine.

A Land Rover representative said, “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.”

A print campaign from the agency won Best in Show at this year’s national Addys awards. The agency’s recent television work backs Land Rover’s Freelander model with humorous commercials that position the sports utility vehicle as an escape from everyday life.

Land Rover’s U.S. sales are healthy. The brand’s business has increased 54 percent through May, compared to the same period a year ago.