Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Detroit Advertising Suffers Another Blow

After 13 years, Mazda has hit the gas and Zoom-zoomed out of Detroit leaving Doner, another former employer of mine, in its wake.

While this news certainly doesn't bear the magnitude of Chevy pulling up stakes after 91 years with Campbell-Ewald, it's still disheartening. Another good advertising agency filled with good people will have to burn a lot of midnight oil to replace 20% of their revenue or be forced to cut back and layoff staff.

In my one year at Doner I learned a lot from some very talented creative people including John DeCerchio, Gary Wolfson and Debbie Karnowski. They taught me how to be fast, smart and funny. I can still remember an 80+ year old Brod Doner hanging around the agency at 10 in the evening, making sure the team I was working on had everything we needed for a new business pitch the next day. There was always a lot of passion inside the wall of that shop.

As for Mazda, the work they created was good, but never reached iconic status. "Zoom-Zoom" and the decision to position Mazda as the sporty Japanese import made a lot of sense. Especially given that Toyota was focused on quality, Honda on being simple, Subaru on AWD and Nissan was still struggling to find its footing.

I owned a Mazda 6i a few years ago and loved it. The car satisfied my inner Andretti with just enough oomph in its three liter V6, the quick shifting manual transmission, and solid handling. When people asked me what it was and how I liked it, I always felt like I was driving the best kept secret in mid-sized sedans. It seemed like the marketing could be doing more for a product that was that good.

And that's probably why Mazda is on its way to WPP today.


  1. Word has been on the street here for months that Team Detroit is going to get the Mazda biz--almost from the moment the review was announced. We here in Detroit can only hope it's true--at least the work and jobs would stay.

    Killer columns. Keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement.

    I hope it does stay in Detroit. There are a lot of good people there who can work on this brand and take it to another level.

  3. Ahhh... This brings back memories of my entrance into the wacky, zany and madcap world of advertising, via post-production at Postique/Griot, consisted of two campaigns: Ford Country (Postique)and Mazda Zoom-Zoom (Griot). Eleven years later, those rough cuts are still etched in my memory like the grainy rings on a jackpine tree trunk (Gratuitous Yooper reference). My condolences to Doner Detroit and the Greater Detroit area. How many body blows can one city take?