Deutsch Bows Out of Mazda Pitch

NEW YORK-Deutsch on Friday dropped out of the contest for Mazda’s $250 million ad account, days after the agency-one of four finalists-received a brief from the client outlining the assignment for final presentations.
Donny Deutsch, chairman and chief executive, cited the agency’s heavy workload as the reason for the withdrawal. “To take on an account this size right now would not be fair to the clients who have made commitments to us recently or, frankly, to Mazda,” said Deutsch.
During the last eight months, the agency has secured business from Bank of America, Triarc Cos. (Snapple) and Gap Inc. (Old Navy).
Deutsch’s departure leaves three finalists: Ogilvy & Mather in New York and Los Angeles; W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich.; and GSD&M, Austin, Texas.
Mazda could not be reached by press time. It is unclear whether the car maker will ask one of the earlier contenders, such as Think New Ideas in Los Angeles or Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners in New York, to replace Deutsch, or if it would proceed with the three remaining shops.
Some agencies have expressed concern that Ogilvy’s status as a global agency for Ford (which controls Mazda) makes that agency a clear favorite in the review. Deutsch said such external factors did not influence his decision.
Separately, Mazda issued the pitch assignment to the four contenders last week. The assignment asks the finalists to reposition Mazda as well as develop a strategic brief for the Millenia luxury model, said sources. Final presentations will be held in mid-October. The winning agency’s first task will be to relaunch Mazda’s high-profile Miata roadster early next year, sources said.
Deutsch’s withdrawal from the review has not lessened the agency’s desire for a car account. “We’ll have a car in the next year or two, I guarantee you,” predicted Deutsch. In recent years, the agency has pitched Volkswagen and Acura.