Rover Changing Advertising Horses Mid-Stream
DETROIT--Seemingly stuck in a rut, the Land Rover division of Ford's
Premium Automotive Group today is expected today to move it's $50 million
advertising account from GSD&M, Austin to Young & Rubicam, which also handles Ford's
Jaguar and Lincoln-Mercury business.
Land Rover's sales appear healthy in the U.S., having posted a 57-percent
sales increase since last year. But behind the numbers is a disappointing
launch of the Freelander and the fact that Range Rover's sales were depressed
last year as buyers held off waiting for the redesigned 2003 Range Rover.
GSD&M was awarded the Land Rover business in March 2000 following the
firing of longtime agency Grace & Rothchild, N.Y., which had created award-winning
and memorable advertising for the British marques that was imitated by many
other luxury SUV marketers.
Ford executives say Land Rover has been unprofitable since Ford acquired
the company two years ago, and that it will be difficult to turn a profit in
the next year, as well. GSD&M six months ago launched a new ad effort themed
"The Most Well Traveled Vehicles On Earth." It had previously launched a
short-lived, unsuccessful campaign after winning the business, themed, "Courage." A
departure from Land Rover's traditional safari and caviar imagery, one ad
showed a pregnant woman wearing a bikini on a beach.
After many years of enviable clarity in the marketplace, Land Rover's image
has been muddled the last two years. Increasing competition in the premium
SUV segment is giving the brand's current managers worry lines. Expect Y&R's
campaign in the U.K., themed "Beyond" to be adapted for the U.S.
Young & Rubicam handles Land Rover advertising abroad, including in Great
Britain. Mike O'Driscoll, who was just appointed head of PAG's British Group,
which includes Land Rover, Jaguar and Aston Martin, was most recently in
charge of Jaguar, which also uses Y&R. Putting the business with Y&R will also
save Ford money.
GSD&M was named agency for Land Rover while the company was still owned by
BMW. The agency is part of ad agency holding company Omnicom. Ford has all of
its advertising business with Britain-based WPP Group, and doesn't like to
go outside WPP for agency work. GSD&M, though, had a "no-cut clause" that