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Irvine-based Mazda ends 13-year marketing relationship with Doner

Automaker says it has entered into negotiations with WPP Group plc.

By Kristen SchottPublished: June 21, 2010 02:08 PM

Irvine-based Mazda North American Operations has cut Michigan-based Doner, which has local offices in Newport Beach, from its agency review and is entering talks with WPP Group plc.

Doner, which has served as the automaker's marketing partner since 1997, was responsible for Mazda's successful "Zoom-Zoom" campaign.

"Mazda has decided to move on. And so must we," Doner execs said in a memo to employees this morning. "Our sights are already set on the future and our new business initiative is focused on winning a new automotive account as well as other exciting opportunities in the pipeline."

Doner helped Mazda boost its U.S. market retail share from 1.4 percent to 2 percent over the last 10 years, reaching its highest number in the past decade in March, noted the statement.

The Mazda account was the agency's largest, making up 20 percent of the company's revenue, according to Doner.

"We have had a very successful relationship with Doner," said Don Romero, chief marketing officer for Mazda North American Operations. "But as a result of our review, we felt that a new marketing communications partner would assist us in achieving our short- and long-term North American sales goals.”

The company has no plans to change its "Zoom-Zoom" brand positioning, according to Romero.

WPP, which has served as Mazda Motor Europe's marketing partner for more than 12 years, was selected because it offers the largest range of offerings to fit the automaker's international needs, according to Jim O'Sullivan, president and CEO of Mazda's North American arm.

The move will support the company's growth efforts throughout North America, he said.

WPP, which has U.S. offices in New York, will provide marketing and communications to the automaker's U.S., Canadian and Mexican operations, marking the first time the company's advertising efforts will be lead by a common firm.

"I'm extremely confident that WPP can take Mazda to the next level," said O'Sullivan.

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