Ford 'wants to' extend global relationship with WPP

WPP's global partnership with Ford, the marcoms giant's biggest global client, is being reviewed and may be extended - although final decisions have not been made.

UPDATE: This story, including the headline, was amended on 29 November to include comments from Ford

A short WPP regulatory announcement this afternoon said: "WPP announces that, on 27 November 2017 in Detroit, Ford Motor Company verbally informed WPP that they are considering their future internal and external marketing model and want to enter into a further agreement with WPP for a period to be agreed in 2018.

"WPP is considering the proposal and is in discussion with Ford on next steps."

Under the deal, WPP currently has first refusal on all marketing, PR, advertising and other work with Ford.

One source at a WPP agency said that this should remain the case for the foreseeable future, with the duration of the new agreement to be confirmed next year.

Ford told Reuters in a statement that WPP's staff were "trusted partners and curators of the Ford brand", and added: "As we are across the Ford business, we are exploring options to improve the fitness of our marketing and advertising operations. No decisions have been made."

The news will come as a relief to WPP, after recent results proved disappointing and led to calls for CEO Sir Martin Sorrell to streamline the business. WPP's share price rose from 1,301p at the time of announcement to 1,305p a few minutes after, but an hour later had fallen back to 1,291p.

PR accounts and moves

The two largest providers of PR services to Ford globally are believed to be Burson-Marsteller and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Ogilvy PR provides UK PR.

In May, Mark Truby succeeded Ray Day as the motor giant's top comms practitioners, at the same time as its CEO departed. Day moved to IBM.

Ford, which hired a chief brand officer in January, is now also looking for a global social media lead.

GTB rebrand

Last year, WPP rebranded its Team Detroit, Blue Hive, and Retail First operations, all of which were created to work for Ford, under a single global identity called Global Team Blue or GTB. Team Detroit was set up in 2007.

PRWeek reported at the time that GTB operates from 49 offices on six continents and is WPP's largest agency team, with more than 2,000 staffers. GTB also services other clients including Purina and Johnson Controls.

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