Ford Board Inquiry Vetoes Scheele-WPP Pact

13 March 2003

Topping the agenda at today’s board meeting of the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Michigan, will be the report of the committee set up to review the solus decision made by chief operating officer Sir Nick Scheele to channel all future advertising and marketing activity solely through WPP Group companies.

Following an immediate suspension of Scheele’s controversial order [WAMN: 12-Mar-03], the committee has recommended that his decision be rescinded. The board meeting will also consider how such a nerve-endingly sensitive internal matter came to be leaked to the Wall Street Journal.

According to Jim Bright, a spokesman for Ford's North American operations, the investigation into that decision was conducted by a team from Ford's finance staff, reporting directly to finance director Allan Gilmour.

Said Bright: “Our review looked at the [decision to opt for] single status source and whether it conformed to the company’s purchasing procedures, and took the decision to rescind the singe source status for WPP.”

Despite insisting “the incident is now behind us, case closed,” Bright let it be known that the issue of a single source for advertising and marketing services is far from dead and buried, implying that a face-saving formula has been agreed.

“Marketing will continue to look at the idea,” he said. “There is a group of marketing senior executives and people in finance who are having another look at it, to see if it is a wise decision from a cost standpoint.”

WPP currently handles some 80% of all Ford marketing and advertising business worldwide, representing around seven per cent of the group’s total billings.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff