SOUTHFIELD, MICH. - W.B. Doner & Co. finally got the national car account it has long been after. The agency was tapped last week for Minneapolis-based National Car Rental's $20 million account, besting Leo Burnett Co., Chicago; Martin/Williams, Minneapolis; and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos/Boston.
For Doner, it is the second big-client account win this year, having earlier topped CME-KHBB/Minneapolis for the $10-15 million Borden snack business.
Leading the National pitch team for Doner was vice chairman Alan Kalter, who heads the office here; chairman-executive committee Herb Fried; vice chairman/executive creative director John Decerchio; Doner Direct chief Tony Everet;, executive vp/planning John Considine and senior vp/marketing director Fred Toettcher.
Doner will have its work cut out repositioning the National brand in one of the true commodity categories among the service industries. Said Kalter, 'The opportunity we have revolves around understanding the needs of the traveler, which go beyond the car and the price.' Added Kalter, 'There are certain psychological issues, and we were able to tap into those in the strategy we presented.'
Doner is taking on National at the end of what National chief executive officer Jay Alix calls 'a seven-month journey to turn this company around.' National has undergone a financial and executive restructuring during that time. Alix also is principal and founder of turnaround firm Jay Alix & Associates.
National in the last year lost its No. 3 spot to Budget; both trail Hertz and Avis. Analysts credit the slip to Budget taking corporate customers from National, which has not had a clear marketing message since General Motors took control of the company in the late 1980s. Additionally, National's lack of a strong brand identity has hurt it in the leisure market.
In the last year, National has launched a program to brand its service nationally with its overseas partners, changing its brand to the somewhat cumbersome National/Interrent. Said National's vp/corporate communications Michael Olsen, '(Branding is) certainly one of the things Doner will help us with.'
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)