By Arun Sudhaman

LONDON: Ford Motor Company has confirmed a consolidation of its European PR activities with WPP, marking the completion of a global alignment with the holding group’s PR agencies.

Europe is the third region in which Ford has handed its PR to a combined team of WPP agencies, following similar exercises in North America and Asia-Pacific.
Ford’s global VP of communications Ray Day confirmed to the Holmes Report that the European alignment was now complete, with the account being led by Hill & Knowlton UK director Ben Padfield. In addition to H&K, other agency executives working on the business have been drawn from Ogilvy PR and Burson-Marsteller.

“In Europe, we hadn’t traditionally been working with agencies – we did not use a lot of outside PR support,” said Day, describing the situation prior to the WPP alignment.

In North America, which aligned in 2008, the Ford business is led by Dave DenHerder, CEO of Burson-Marsteller subsidiary Direct Impact in Washington DC. In 2009, Asia-Pacific, which includes Africa, saw a similar process take place – with the account now being led by Burson-Marsteller MD Clancey Houston.

The WPP alignment has, for a number of years, extended beyond PR to include Ford’s advertising and other marketing services.

“We use WPP worldwide, and we have an agreement where we don’t have a relationship with one entity,” explained Day. “We have a blended team approach, so that Ford staff are working side by side with agency staff.”

Under Day’s leadership, Ford has transformed its communications approach, basing it around an in-house ‘content factory’ that develops a range of materials, such as videos, stories and images, for use across all online and offline media.