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X. Corporate Communicator of the Year


Winner
Campaign Title

Client

Agency

WPP X Team - Asia Pacific & Africa

Ford Motor Company's long-term ambition is to have each of three regions contributing equal proportions of its global business: The Americas, Europe, and Asia Pacific and Africa. The latter 'region', referred to as Ford APA, is of particular strategic importance because of its vast growth potential. In 2009, Ford realised it needed a holistic approach to the communication function in order to support this growth vision by building its reputation and boosting purchase consideration. The automaker called upon WPP to create a seamless PR entity that would combine the best-in-class powers of a number of firms. The result – the Ford WPP X Team – brings together four firms: Burson-Marsteller for its senior leadership experience and corporate-reputation capabilities in India and China, Ogilvy Public Relations for its broad Southeast Asia footprint and expertise in digital and social media, Hill & Knowlton for its consumer-marketing experience in the key markets of China and Thailand, Penn, Schoen and Berland for it abilities in message testing and perceptual research. The X Team hit the streets starting in 2010, with support from writers and digital experts at the Content Factory, part of Bangkok-based WPP firm Prism. The X Team aggressively tells Ford's story, aided by a regional story matrix that captures active pitches in each market to maximize cross-pollination. Relationship building among lifestyle media and engagement with online word-of-mouth influencers also figure strongly in the team's activities. Ford has seen sales from the APA region grow from 0.9 per cent in 2009 to 6.2 percent in 2011. During that time, the team: Supported key product launches including the Ford Fiesta in the ASEAN and Ford Figo in India and South Africa, Trained more than 200 dealers to become effective external communicators in their communities, Trained more than a dozen executives in media engagement, Carried out three waves of perception research and message testing across five markets, Increased Ford's presence across social-media networks, Strengthened Ford's early-warning process and support on quality and safety issues.