Mazda’s Smith moves to RAC

Jan Smith, Mazda’s controversial marketing director, has quit the troubled car company to join the RAC, which has created a strategic role specially for her.

The move follows a three-year stint, during which Mazda’s fortunes have continued to slide.

Year-on-year sales to April are down from 0.92 per cent of the UK market (4,870 units) to 0.79 per cent (4,130 units) (SMMT).

The drop coincides with a controversial, interactive advertising strategy that Smith devised with HHCL & Partners. However, a Mazda spokesman described Smith’s departure as amicable, saying that the move gave her an opportunity to “advance her career”.

Smith’s role will be filled temporarily by Mazda managing director David Heslop, though the spokesman says there are plans to replace her.

Smith is yet to be given a title at the RAC, which has a ú6m advertising account and substantial below-the-line spend. She will operate from the RAC’s head office in an umbrella role covering the RAC’s motoring, financial and European divisions.

Smith is known for her long association with HHCL which also spawned the launch campaign for First Direct, where she was marketing director. She now finds herself pitched against HHCL, in its role as the Automobile Association’s agency.

Smith will join the RAC in the next two weeks. Her appointment closely follows Cogent’s appointment to the RAC account (MW April 14).

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