Zambezi Goes Through a Round of Layoffs After Parting With Client Autotrader

By Patrick Coffee 

Independent agency Zambezi parted ways with a group of staffers this week, a spokesperson confirmed on Thursday.

According to the Los Angeles shop, the layoffs stemmed from the end of its relationship with online car marketplace Autotrader late last year.

“We parted ways with Autotrader at the end of 2018,” said Jean Freeman, Zambezi principal and CEO. “That decision was the right one for the agency, but one of the unfortunate ramifications means that we’ve had to say goodbye to some of our colleagues. We are grateful for their contributions to the agency and wish them the best in everything they do.”


According to three people close to the matter, the move affected just under 20 employees, most of whom worked on the Autotrader account. One former employee said the agency also stopped worked on the Venmo brand around the same time, though that work was project-based, and the agency spokesperson confirmed that Zambezi continues to count parent company PayPal among its clients.

Zambezi won Autotrader’s business in a late 2015 review that ended the brand’s 16-year relationship with Doner and went on to lead the business and that of sister brand Kelly Blue Book in collaboration with Assembly, 360i and the client’s in-house team.

In late 2017, parent company Cox Automotive promoted former Initiative planner Greta Crowley to vp of marketing. Since then, the brand’s efforts have included a crossover promotion with Conan O’Brien. Here’s a more traditional 2017 spot from Zambezi.

A Cox Automotive spokesperson has not yet provided information regarding its marketing business, though it is our understanding that the account went into review after the Zambezi split.

One party claims that agency and client parted ways due to disagreements over strategic direction, but we cannot confirm that at this time.

This post will be updated when we have more information.

Zambezi’s most prominent work in recent months includes this all-star effort for Beats by Dre.

[Pic via]