Doner Wins AutoZone Account After Agreeing to its IP Rules

Independent Shop Agreed to Intellectual-Property Rules Because It Felt 'Confident About Our Chances'

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Doner has landed the AutoZone creative account after a review. The independent agency beat out finalists Interpublic's DraftFCB, Chicago, and Omnicom's TracyLocke in the review, which began in December. The review was handled by consultancy Linderman Media Group.

The AutoZone account, a nearly $60 million piece of business, according to Kantar, made waves in November when word got out that AutoZone was asking that agencies going into the review relinquish the rights to own intellectual property created during the review. AutoZone was believed to have told agencies that it will give review participants $30,000 as compensation, but that it didn't want agencies to pitch competitors for two years. It's unclear if all the agencies participating agreed to those terms as DraftFCB declined to comment on the terms, and TracyLocke didn't return a request for comment.

David DeMuth, co-CEO-president of Doner, told Ad Age that AutoZone had clearly stated its rules, and that Doner agreed and proceeded to participate. He added that he doesn't find that marketers are increasingly demanding that agencies give up ownership of ideas.

"You come across it every once in a while. Then you have a decision. I felt confident about our chances, so we agreed to the terms," he said. Other marketers in recent years that have made a move to own agency-pitch ideas include Kraft Foods, Hilton Hotels and, most recently, Sears Holdings Corp.

"Doner brought us an expansive POV for the brand, one that honors where we've been and blazes a trail for the future," said Lisa Kranc, senior VP-marketing at AutoZone in a statement. "Their unique take on how to support our retail and commercial businesses was smart, innovative and will help take us to the next level."

"It's a great brand that lives up to its promise," Mr. DeMuth said. "It's great to work with brands like that . And it's a great for our agency. We understand a lot about the automotive marketplace and we understand retail. It's a good marriage."

Doner's clients include Quaker State and Pennzoil, accounts the agency has had since 2004 and 2006, respectively. Doner won the Chrysler dealer and retail businesses in November and has since picked up additional duties for the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep brands. Also in the last six months the agency has won creative for audio company Harman, which manufactures JBL and Harman/Kardon speakers and electronics; during that time it lost the Great Wolf Lodge account.

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