Mazda Confirms That Review Has Begun

Mazda today confirmed hiring Boston-based consultancy Pile + Co. to manage a review for its North American advertising account handled by independent Doner in Southfield, Mich.

The agency, which has worked on the business since 1997, has been invited to defend. Doner handles some spot media buying for the client in addition to creative, but the latter is the focus of the competition. Mazda’s national buying, with WPP Group’s Mindshare, is not part of the process.

The nameplate spent $155 million in major measured media last year, down 44 percent from ’08, excluding digital outlays, per Nielsen. first reported on Wednesday that Mazda was in play.

Client director of product and corporate communications Jeremy Barnes characterized the review as standard operating procedure for the automaker. Getting the right work for the right price is paramount, he said.

Mazda’s familiar “Zoom, Zoom” slogan will remain, even if Doner does not keep the business.

“It’s more than just a tagline, it’s the rallying cry of the company,” Barnes said.

There is no firm timetable for the process. “It could take two weeks or several months,” he said.

Battered in the marketplace like many automakers last year, Mazda’s North American sales in ’09 dropped 21 percent to 207,767 units, the company said. Ford has long held a minority stake in the brand, but its ownership has dwindled of late.