John Sarsen, president-CEO of Association of National Advertisers, acknowledged in October at the group's annual conference that the ANA was officially withdrawing its controversial offer to let ad agencies join. His explanatory comment, however, only served to anger the American Association of Advertising Agencies: "We assumed that [the invitation] would not disrupt the Four A's, but the agencies saw it as an either-or situation and we didn't want to decimate the Four A's."
Philip H. Geier spent a busy year at the helm of Interpublic Group of Cos. merging two of his biggest agencies, fending off retirement rumors and filing lawsuits. Lowe & Partners/SMS and Ammirati Puris Lintas were fused into Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide. Several times in 1999, Mr. Geier also had to reiterate his plan to stay at the head of IPG for several more years, even though many have guessed McCann-Erickson Worldwide Chairman John Dooner has already been tapped as his successor. On the lawsuit watch, Mr. Geier sued and/or was sued by three former employees last year, including Richard Hadala, formerly at Ammirati Puris Lintas; Marvin Sloves, formerly at Lowe & Partners/SMS; and Michael Kassan, formerly at Western Initiative Media. With all the courtroom ruckus, he may be spending as much time in the witness chair as the chairman's seat.
The year 1999 is when Oprah Winfrey cemented her position as queen of all media. In addition to keeping up with her five-times-a-week appearances on her syndicated TV talk show, Ms. Winfrey joined Geraldine Laybourne and Marcy Carsey to launch women's TV and Internet network Oxygen Media. She also teamed with Hearst Magazines to produce her own magazine title, which had advertisers lining up for an October upfront. This all follows her 1998 production of- and starring role in-the film adaptation of Toni Morrison's "Beloved" and production of '99 TV movie from the best-selling book "Tuesdays with Morrie." Perhaps some of her forthcoming ventures will be touted in the spring debut of her magazine, along side tips for "remembering your spirit."
Steven T. Florio, president-CEO at Conde Nast Publications, had an eventful year. He underwent heart surgery, moved the headquarters to Times Square from Madison Avenue, captured Fairchild Publications-in one of the most sought-after publishing sales of the year-and accepted the resignation of two high-profile editors, Self's Rochelle Udell and Mademoiselle's Elizabeth Crowe. But an almost expected publisher shuffling in October held one real surprise: the departure of Mr. Florio's closest ally, Exec VP Catherine Viscardi Johnston. Despite this yearend commotion, he did start 1999 off right. At the beginning of the year, he signed and sealed a seven-year employment contract with Conde Nast-a sign he's not ready to cede his position any time soon.
Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, showed research that in this second year of paid anti-drug campaigns, the ads were starting to change attitudes. And he also got into a public fight with the president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving over whether anti-alcohol ads should be included with the anti-drug ads. Mr. McCaffrey just said "no"-alcohol messages couldn't use the anti-drug agency's "don't use it" strategy. He warned mixing the two would dilute the anti-drug message. However, after a congressional battle, Mr. McCaffrey offered to include anti-alcohol messages among the public service ads stations agree to air in exchange for paid anti-drug ads. He also offered to develop a plan for an anti-alcohol campaign that supporters could take to Congress.
DAVID E. KELLEY
It was another banner year for David E. Kelley. His ABC legal series, "The Practice," won the Emmy for Best Drama for the second year in a row, while the lawyers over on Fox's "Ally McBeal," another Kelley creation, won Best Comedy series. Mr. Kelley's "Snoops" wasn't a hit with viewers, though "The Practice" should prove even more popular in January with the lead-in from "Snoops" replacement, the phenom "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
Michael Kassan, former U.S. president of Western Initiative Media Worldwide, startled the media world this summer when he filed legal actions against Western parent Interpublic Group of Co's. for $63.5 million, claiming breach of contract and defamation of character. Interpublic had made the first move when it asked Mr. Kassan to take an extended vacation. Mr. Kassan said Interpublic had accused him-with no substantiation, he claimed-of alleged breaches of his employment contract. Mr. Kassan left the company and the legal actions were settled without public explanation.
An interim CEO position for Apple co-founder Steve Jobs has evolved into more than two years of effort in nursing the company back to health. Mr. Jobs put Apple back on track, first with the iMac, which continues to score high marks, and now the iBook, a portable laptop computer he positioned as the "iMac to go." The company's newest product, the Power Mac G4, is just the latest in his powerful arsenal. Mr. Jobs put style, design and color at the forefront of the products and made them appealing both as powerful computing tools and eye-candy. He might be a hard-charging, perfectionist, but the still-boyish computer scion IS Apple, and it's back because of him.