Ford Motor Co (F.N) has chosen Omnicom’s (OMC.N) BBDO as its lead creative advertising agency in a blow to its long-time partner WPP (WPP.L).
After a five-month review, Ford said it had named BBDO as its global creative advertising agency, while Wieden + Kennedy would be a creative partner for specific projects.
Britain’s WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, would continue to lead for Ford on marketing tasks such as media planning, media buying, shopper and performance marketing, website development and customer relationship marketing, Ford said.
Ford said it was also creating more than 100 new in-house global marketing positions.
WPP said in a separate statement it would continue to handle Tier Two advertising work for Ford in the United States, the China advertising operations, advertising for Ford’s luxury vehicle brand Lincoln and all Ford’s public relations.
The loss is a setback for WPP, which is still recovering from the acrimonious departure of its founder and veteran CEO Martin Sorrell who left in April following a complaint of personal misconduct, which he denied.
WPP’s new boss, Mark Read, has vowed to invest in creative talent in the United States to strengthen its position on Madison Avenue, as he seeks to rebuild the ad group by prioritizing sustainable growth over short-term profits.
Read is seeking to reposition the British company in the face of cautious client spending and increased competition from Google, Facebook and consultants such as Deloitte.
Shares in WPP fell 8 percent last month after it said the cost of returning to sustainable growth would lead to a cut in its 2018 margin outlook.
Ford had said in April it would take bids on some of its advertising managed by WPP.
The sudden departure of Sorrell, who built WPP into an advertising giant through 33 years of dealmaking, prompted fears that without his contacts WPP could lose clients and talent.
WPP clients such as Unilever and Ford had called for WPP to simplify its offering, to provide an integrated service via fewer people, while some clients are taking their digital media buying inhouse to save money.
WPP owns some of the most storied names in advertising, such as JWT, Ogilvy, Grey and Y&R. It handles advertising for big clients such as Vodafone, Chanel, Unilever and BP.