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IRVINE, Calif. -- Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today announced that, after an extensive agency review, it is in contract negotiations with WPP Group plc to become its full-service marketing communications partner. 

"We were privileged to have had an opportunity to have in-depth discussions with, and presentations from, some of the world's finest marketing communications agencies, including Doner, our marketing partner since 1997," said Don Romano, MNAO's Chief Marketing Officer.

"We have had a very successful relationship with Doner," Romano added.  "In fact, Doner helped create our global Zoom-Zoom brand positioning a decade ago, which we have no plans to change.  But as a result of our review, we felt that a new marketing communications partner would assist us in achieving our short- and long-term North American sales goals."

Jim O'Sullivan, MNAO President & CEO, said, "We undertook an agency review as a process check, to ensure our company is properly positioned for substantial growth in North America.  While each one of the agencies we interviewed had unique qualifications, WPP has the broadest set of assets that best fit Mazda's global needs.  I'm extremely confident that WPP can take Mazda to the next level." 

WPP, which has been Mazda Motor Europe's marketing partner for more than 12 years, will be responsible for providing marketing and communications support to MNAO's U.S., Canadian and Mexican operations, and will bring a global perspective to the company's North American marketing communications.  For the first time, MNAO's marketing communications will be directed by a common agency. 

Hill & Knowlton, a WPP-owned global public relations agency, has been MNAO's public relations agency of record for more than 30 years.  H&K will continue to provide MNAO public relations and public affairs counsel and support.      

Celebrating its 40th Anniversary in North America in 2010, Mazda North American Operations is headquartered in Irvine, Calif. and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States, Canada and Mexico through nearly 900 dealers.  Operations in Canada are managed by Mazda Canada, Inc., located in Ontario; and in Mexico by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.

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