Y&R Says Creative/Account Split Will Benefit Lincoln-Mercury Ads

Young & Rubicam’s surprising plan to service Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln-Mercury division from two separate California offices is designed to capitalize on the best the West Coast has to offer, according to agency executives.
While account management, media and strategic planning teams will be stationed in Irvine, close to the client’s new headquarters, all creative teams will be based at the agency’s existing office in San Francisco. The lure is a “vibrant and creative, trendsetting culture, which has produced some of the best advertising in the world,” said John Hirschboek, Y&R Detroit’s current president, who will head California operations [Adweek, March 16].
Relationship marketing, handled by Y&R’s Wunderman Cato Johnson unit, will also be split between the two offices, with creatives in San Francisco and account management in Irvine, said Cathy Coraci, the agency’s human resources director.
Executive creative director Michael Belitsos will also move west to oversee the account, Coraci said. Y&R is scheduled to begin servicing the account in California on July 1.
About 300 Y&R employees currently work on the $275 million Lincoln-Mercury business in Detroit. So far, employment offers have been made to about 100 Detroit employees for positions in the California offices, Coraci said. “Our goal is first and foremost to set up the California offices,” she said.
It is unclear whether any of the remaining Detroit staffers will be laid off, Coraci said. The Detroit office, which will continue to be led by Y&R Detroit chairman John Vanderzee, will focus on developing new clients.
Aside from Lincoln-Mercury, the Detroit office’s other clients–which include Ford’s Visteon automotive parts division, Michigan National Bank, Health Alliance Plan, Michigan Consolidated Gas Co. and DuPont Automotive Products–total about $75 million in billings.
The Visteon business, which the agency won a year ago, “was so active that it really curtailed our ability to go after new business effectively,” Vanderzee said. “That’s going to change now, and we’re going to seek new business in a more proactive way.”