WPP’s Ties to Ford Force Grey From Chrysler Pitch

NEW YORK Chrysler’s newfound willingness to look beyond Omnicom Group to solicit creative ideas on Chrysler and Dodge led the carmaker to invite WPP Group’s Grey, among others.

But sources said today that Chrysler’s openess wasn’t shared by WPP and its top global client, Ford. And even though Grey doesn’t have any Ford business, the agency has withdrawn from the Chrysler search, in deference to the WPP-Ford relationship, said sources.

The decision came after Grey’s name surfaced in the search and WPP and Grey weighed their chances of winning against the long-term needs of Ford and the prospect of Grey working for Ford in the future, according to sources. “The holding company is looking at it as, who’s the better bet?” said a source. Grey, however, has not landed any Ford assignments in exchange for its exit.

Ford declined to comment, acknowledging through a representative that WPP is a “key partner of Ford Motor Company and has been for quite some time,” but adding that the “discussions we have with those key partners…Is something that we hold close.”

Grey, WPP and Chrysler declined to comment.

Word of Grey’s exit surfaced after sources raised the possibility last week, after Chrysler had briefed the agency and as it prepared for a presentation to the carmaker that was slated for next week.

The Chrysler and Dodge brands are the focus of Chrysler’s review, which includes MDC Partners’ Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, Publicis Groupe’s Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco and at least two Omnicom agencies: longtime incumbent BBDO in Detroit and New York, and Cutwater, a San Francisco shop that used to work on Chrysler’s Jeep, said sources. The total number of agencies could not be ascertained.

At the onset of the review, sources said that Chrysler was seeking ideas for fourth-quarter efforts. At the time, a Chrysler rep said, in part, “As a new company, we are looking for fresh ideas to communicate in the marketplace.”

See also:

“GM’s Chairman of the Bored”

“Chrysler Awards Jeep Project to GlobalHue”

“Consumers Still Hostile to GM, Chrysler”