Cox Automotive has appointed Zambezi as the lead brand strategy and creative agency for its Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book brands following a competitive review.
MDC's Doner has worked on the business for the last 16 years. Representatives from the agency were not immediately available for comment.
"Our company is in a huge growth mode right now and growing to 50-plus brands within the Cox Automotive portfolio, [so] it was time to continue to push innovative and fresh thinking and pull in powerful partners to help us with this evolution of our business," said Jessica Stafford, VP-consumer marketing and creative studios at Cox Automotive.
She added that the company has had a "wonderful and deep partnership" with Doner. Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book will continue working with the shop's media arm through their existing partnership with sibling MDC Partner shop Assembly, which absorbed Doner Media last year.
As lead agency, Zambezi will work across all creative platforms, including TV, print, digital and social, while collaborating with the company's in-house creative team, Assembly, and digital partner 360i. The independent firm will focus initially on the U.S. market for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book, said Ms. Stafford.
Prior to inviting four agencies to pitch for the business, Cox Automotive had an internal list of 12 agencies it was considering, said Ms. Stafford. She said the company has worked with Zambezi on some projects in the past, so it was familiar with the shop's work.
New campaigns are expected to launch for both Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book in the first half of 2016. The goal for Autotrader is to connect with consumers' lifestyles from a matchmaking perspective.
To complement Autotrader and help educate consumers on car shopping, she said the company plans on pushing out more of Kelley Blue Book's reviews and editorial content next year.
The length of the contract with Zambezi was not disclosed, but Ms. Stafford said the company "aims to develop long-lasting partnerships." She declined to disclose budget information.