W.B. Doner & Co. is gearing up to open its new California office to support the $240 million Mazda North American Operations account, which it won in October.
The agency, headquartered in Southfield, Mich., is in final negotiations on a property in Irvine, Calif., near Mazda's headquarters, said Tim Blett, president of Doner's automotive division. A target date of Aug. 1 has been set to have the new office running, he added.
"It will be very much in the same character as our Southfield operations," Blett said. The new office will include a research and focus group facility to study Mazda's target consumers, he said.
Doner, which has been working out of temporary space in Irvine, has filled 42 of the 50 positions it has planned for California, Blett said. However, a key slot remains open: national account director on Mazda. Susan Paroly, previously Doner's automotive account supervisor, filled the corresponding position in Southfield earlier this year.
Some of the California staffers were brought in from other Doner offices, Blett said. Several others worked on the account at Mazda's previous agency, Foote, Cone & Belding in Santa Ana, Calif. Among them are Jim Niland, a product specialist; Henni Sanft, director of strategic planning; and David Stokes, an associate creative director in charge of all collateral work.
Blett said he will split his time between Irvine and Southfield. "Creative development and strategic planning, the critical part of that, will be in Detroit," Blett said. "As things are shaking out, I'll be a little bit of everywhere."
Doner has expanded the network of field offices it had in place to service its previous Ford dealer business. New offices were recently opened in Somerset, N.J., Jacksonville, Fla., and Houston, he said, joining established offices in Dallas and Boston.