Tim Blett, who has served as senior partner, president at Doner and helped establish its Newport Beach, CA office, has parted ways with the agency. Blett has been a Doner staffer since 1986, originally joining in a new business development role. We have the official memo sent from Rob Strasberg and David DeMuth regarding Blett’s departure, which you can read after the jump.
First off, we’d like to apologize for the janky sound on this clip. If you positively cannot watch this clip solely due to the audio lag, you can watch a better version of the spot here.
Anyways, “Anthem” marks Southfield, MI’s own Doner’s first work for Choice Hotels after being named lead creative agency for the brand last December. Aside from encouraging you to stand on your luggage (which can actually be a ton of fun if you’ve haven’t tried it and don’t travel with wine glasses in your bag), the spot also debuts the new tagline, “Your Voice. Your ChoiceHotels.com.” What’s up with that? As Doner CCO Rob Strasberg says, ““The creative executions for this campaign use the voice of the traveler to position Choice Hotels as the brand with ears.” Watching this spot really only makes me ask one question: “Does anyone know where that dinosaur theme park is?” Credits after the jump.
Six months after we reported that everyone from Arnold to DDB Chicago to McCann dropped out of the AutoZone pitch due in large part to the brand’s lofty demands during the pitch, it looks like the auto parts chain has finally found its ideal agency partner in Doner.
AutoZone VP, marketing Lisa Kranc made the announce today, saying, “Doner brought us an expansive POV for the brand, one that honors where we’ve been and blazes a trail for the future. Their unique take on how to support our retail and commercial businesses was smart, innovative and will help take us to the next level.”
According to camp Doner, it can serve as a better creative AOR for clients like AutoZone because of its three “Eco” structure which “is populated by creative staff capable of generating and producing ideas on all levels of modern communication and social activity.” We’ll take their word for it for now.
Great Wolf Resorts is off our radar, but we’ve received confirmation from Doner that the agency is no longer working with the brand, thus ending a nearly five-year relationship. From what the company’s explanation says, it’s “North America’s largest family of indoor waterpark resorts and owns and operates its family resorts” and it operates in the Poconos, Niagara Falls, Sandusky, OH (here’s to you, Tommy Boy) and Kansas City among other locales. The statement from Doner: “Our relationship is ending. We’ll be done in about 30 days. We wish them well.”
Update: Great Wolf confirms the split as well, telling us, “Great Wolf Resorts is parting ways with Doner. After they were informed of our decision to put the account into review at the beginning of February, they decided not to defend the business. We thank them for their many years as a partner, and we’re excited to be making an announcement regarding our new agency within the next few days.”
We had a feeling when emails were bounced back and calls weren’t returned, but yes, Doner has confirmed that the agency’s office located at 90 Eglinton Ave. in Toronto, ON has closed down. It took some pulling teeth to get the yes on that, but we’re still trying to determine who was affected and reasons why. In memoriam, here’s an old overview: “Doner Canada, Inc. operates as an advertising agency. The company was formerly known as Doner Schur Peppler and changed its name to Doner Canada, Inc. in December, 1997. The company was founded in 1986 and is based in Toronto, Canada. Doner Canada, Inc. operates as a subsidiary of W.B. Doner and Company.”
The agency might want to update its site as it still has Toronto listed.
Two weeks after we reported that longtime Campbell-Ewald exec Craig Conrad split for Motor City rival Doner, the latter agency has finally made it official. As we mentioned, Doner’s Chrysler retail/dealer account comes into play and as EVP, brand leader, Conrad will be responsible for directing the strategy development and daily operations on the automaker’s business. During his tenure at C-E, Michigan native Conrad participated in account reviews for categories including government, QSR, packaged goods, financial services, home goods, retail, healthcare, travel and gaming, and education.
David DeMuth, Doner’s co-CEO/president sings Conrad’s praises in a statement, saying, “His wealth of knowledge in new business development will also be an asset to us as we look to deepen client relationships.”
Sources familiar with the matter confirm to us that Craig Conrad, who’s spent the last three years as director of marketing and business development at Warren, MI’s own Campbell-Ewald, is heading over to neighboring Southfield to take on the “EVP, brand leader” post at Doner. Exact start date and specific role haven’t been disclosed, but spies claim that Conrad will be leading the latter agency’s Chrysler dealer/retail business, which Doner was awarded last November.
Conrad’s departure has to be somewhat of a blow to C-E, which just endured a fair amount of cuts in December. After all, he spent 15 years at the Motor City stalwart (which is approaching its 100th anniversary), moving up from account executive to supervisor to management and eventually his director post. We’ll hopefully have more info on this coming days as Conrad makes the transition over.
It suffices to say that 2009 wasn’t the best year for Alan Kalter, the former CEO of Doner who “resigned” last December and sold off the agency, which is now run by Rob Strasberg, David DeMuth and Tim Blett. Well, this flew under our radar until a tipster informed us this morning that Kalter, who came under fire due to the pension scandal and watched his shop endure layoffs due to the losses of account after account last year, is suing his former employer. According to the Oakland county website, Kalter filed a complaint in October and looking at the timeline, the case against Doner was still effective as of Dec. 2. We’re checking with Doner to see if the agency has any comment and get more info on the suit in the process. Stay tuned…
Chrysler continues dishing out portions of its ad business to an array of agencies, this time awarding Doner its dealer/retail account, which could be worth an estimated $500 million in billings next year. According to Adweek, Doner’s assignment is to produce dealer and retail-oriented ads for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep as part of a year-end effort to clear lots. Lord knows after losing Mazda nearly six months ago, Doner sure could use a major boost like this. The Southfield, MI-based agency is also one of handful of shops in the running for Chrysler’s brand advertising, says the automaker’s CEO/chief marketer, Olivier Francois. Read more at Adweek here.
Since yesterday, we’ve been deluged with tips that layoffs have been occurring at Doner as a result of the agency’s Mazda loss in June.
The agency responded to us with this statement:
“With the loss of the Mazda account we are currently working under our 90-day termination agreement. As expected, there are some employees who will be affected through layoffs. Out of respect for those affected, we will not provide further comment on this process beyond this statement.”
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as losing a big client generally equals major staffing cuts. From what spies are telling us, Doner’s Newport and Southfield offices have been hit hardest to the tune of 40 cuts, though this number is obviously unsubstantiated.
More: “The New Dawn of Doner is Upon Us”