Sir Martin Sorrell insisted his brand-led agency model can lead to "better, not blander" creative, when unveiling WPP's first global campaign for the automotive giant Ford recently.
The campaign consists of a single set of TV and print executions led by WPP's European team, which have been adapted into different languages, and a localised approach to digital strategy. Presenting the work alongside his client, Jeff Farley, Ford's group vice-president of global marketing, sales and service, Sorrell argued that it showed how integration done well made for more effective creative.
Ford, which has been WPP's biggest client since 1987, had historically run different creative in the US, Europe and Asia through multiple group agencies – JWT, Y&R, Ogilvy, Wunderman, MEC and Mindshare.
Sorrell claimed" "It was a fragmented, disaggregated, siloed model. It didn't work. "He believes the future of the industry lies in the client brand-led agency-within-an-agency model that Ford's needs have led WPP to set up, beginning with Team Detroit in 2006 and rolling out globally, including the creation of Blue Hive for Ford of Europe last year.Sorrell said: "People look at these global approaches and they tend to think it's a question about cost and efficiency. It isn't. It's about getting better work. "This is the way that our industry is going to go. This is the way the clients will get better work – not cheaper work ... More effective work, access to more resources. "To say that it will all become bland, the lowest common denominator ... we're going for the highest common multiple here, we’re trying to get our best people to work on this business in the most effective and efficient way."
Delivering 50 different spots "answers the question about blandness", Sorrell went on. "In the context of what we have done, there is tremendous variety."
He paid tribute to Ford with the candid assessment that "life has not been easy", but the integration would not have been possible without the client's direction.
"You have to have a client with a strong vision ... There's a lot of talk in our industry about trying to integrate. You can only do that when you have the client taking the lead. The agency can follow."Life has not been easy and Ford is a wonderful client in the sense that they are demanding, just like they are tough, and if we make mistakes they’ll tell us about it. There’s a tremendous trust in the relationship and that’s an abused word. But it’s very important to understand this. Our people like to work on this business."