W.B. Doner & Co. has resigned its regional Ford dealer association business in order to concentrate exclusively on its newly secured Mazda North American Operations account. The move puts in play about $80-100 million in business.
"In order to serve Mazda, we made a business decision that we're going to use the resources that got us to this point to work on Mazda, which we think is critically important,"
said Alan Kalter, chief executive officer of Doner in Southfield, Mich. "We couldn't go out and recreate those resources and serve both.
So we made the decision, a very difficult one, to resign all the Ford dealer business."
Ford division dealer associations currently serviced by Doner include New England--the largest, billing about $25 million--Texas, Michigan (except Detroit and its suburbs), Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.
J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, is a likely candidate in all the reviews. In addition to being Ford's national agency, it handles 48 of the 63 Ford dealer associations. JWT handles about $350 million of the $500 million total spent by Ford dealer associations, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
"Given that W.B. Doner has resigned the Ford dealer business, we're prepared to make our qualifications known," said Peter Schweitzer, JWT's Detroit-based president of the Americas.
Doner was not pressured by officials at Ford or Mazda--which Ford controls--to drop the dealer business, Kalter said. Both automakers are being cooperative and have agreed to allow as much time as needed for the associations to choose successors and make the transition from Doner, he said.
Ron Neale, Mazda's director of marketing, said he supported Doner's decision to focus exclusively on the Mazda account, which it takes over officially on Jan. 1.
"I think just from a staffing standpoint, we're a bigger account, and they're going to need the staff that they have there to service this account, and add people," Neale said. "So it would have been a challenge for them to do both."