Mazda Looks Past Doner, Hires Pile for Review

Mazda is preparing to reach out to agencies as it looks beyond lead shop Doner for input on its advertising account, sources said.
The Ford nameplate has tapped Pile + Co. in Boston to spearhead a review for some or all of its business handled by the Southfield, Mich.-based independent, per sources.
A Mazda representative declined comment, and executives at Doner and Pile + Co. either could not be reached or declined comment.
Automaker spent close to $155 million on domestic ads last year, down 44 percent from ’08, per Nielsen.
In terms of creative approach, Mazda is best know for the signature “Zoom, Zoom” line that is whispered, sung or spoken in much of its advertising.

Doner added the business in 1997, and Mazda stands as the agency’s showpiece account.

Doner works on both creative and media chores (mainly spot buys in recent years), while WPP Group’s Mindshare handles most national buys. In fact, WPP agencies handle most Ford brands, with Mazda and Volvo being the main exceptions. (Volvo uses Arnold and Nitro as its lead shops.)

It could not immediately be determined if Mindshare’s portion of the account is up for grabs.

Propelling the review to some extent, per sources, is likely the recent change of leadership at Doner and the departure of former CCO John DeCerchio. That 34-year veteran of the shop held a 32 percent stake in the ad firm and he was closely associated with Mazda’s “Zoom, Zoom” campaign. The agency’s split with DeCerchio came amid much acrimony, as he alleged he was due a $55 million payout over 10 years, not the $51.5 million the agency believed he was owed.

The matter was resolved before Doner made a major ownership shift late last year, with longtime CEO Alan Kalter selling his stake to three other senior execs: David DeMuth, Rob Strasberg and Tim Blett. The purchase price was not disclosed.

–with Eleftheria Parpis