Former Ford Executive Leopoldo Orellana Will Manage Operation

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DETROIT ( -- Mazda North American Operations will begin selling cars in Mexico next year and has hired Leopoldo "Polo" Orellana as managing director of the effort, according to the company.

The Ford Motor Co.-owned brand plans to announce the news at the Mexico City Auto Show later today.

Managed Lincoln in Mexico
Mr. Orellana had been at Ford for 15 years and spent the last two as managing director of Lincoln Mercury in Mexico. He now reports to James O'Sullivan, president-CEO of Mazda in North America. Mr. Sullivan also came to Mazda from Lincoln Mercury.

Mazda's U.S. agency, independent Doner of Southfield, Mich., and Newport Beach, Calif., beat out several unnamed contenders in a review for the new Mexican advertising account and already has representation in Mexico City, Mr. Orellana said. WPP Group's MindShare will handle media buys.

No financial details
Mr. Orellana declined to name the contenders or discuss the size of the account, saying only: "Our advertising budget will be enough to launch the brand in this market."

Mazda spent almost $214 million in U.S. measured media through August of this year and nearly $228 million in calendar year 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

An executive close to the matter said WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Mexico City, which handles Mazda advertising in some parts of the world, was unsuccessful in its pitch for the Mexico work.

'Zoom Zoom'
"We are going to follow the worldwide positioning of Mazda," Mr. Orellana said. "We are going to do the 'zoom zoom' positioning," which includes discussions of vehicle performance, styling and sporty handling. Doner originally created the "Zoom. Zoom" ad theme for the U.S., but it has been used elsewhere.

Mazda will enter Mexico in the second half of 2005 with three models: the Mazda 3, Mazda 6 sedan and RX8, Mr. Orellana said. He declined to predict vehicle sales volume for the first 12 months.

Globally, Japan's Mazda Motor Corp. has greatly improved its financial and brand standing in the past year with fresh, stylish models that are selling well. In the U.S., Mazda said it sales rose by 3.1% through November to 243,016 units.

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