FTC QUESTIONS IMPACT OF VNU/NIELSEN DEAL

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[washington] The Federal Trade Commission is questioning media buyers on the potential pricing impact of combining VNU's Competitive Media Reporting and Nielsen Media Corp.'s Monitor Plus service, competing services to track brand spending. Dutch publisher VNU is in the midst of a $2.7 billion deal to buy Nielsen. The FTC could require VNU to spin off one of the brand-tracking services before completing the deal.

Pingpong.com shops $30 mil account

[fountain valley, calif.] Pingpong.com, a new Web service that's part portal and part push technology, is shopping its $30 million advertising account. Arnold Ingalls Moranville, San Francisco; Doner, Newport Beach, Calif; FCB Worldwide, Costa Mesa, Calif.; J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco; and Townsend & O'Leary, Irvine Calif., are the five semi-finalists for the business. A final choice is expected by Oct. 8. The initial Pingpong budget is for a national campaign, with additional advertising dollars to be placed in Europe and Asia following the U.S. launch.

P&G tests feminine wipe product

[cincinnati] Procter & Gamble Co. is concept testing an over-the-counter feminine-hygiene wipe for treating vaginal yeast infections, with advertising under development by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York. P&G has trademarked the brand name Embody, complete with logo and periwinkle packaging, for products that include feminine hygiene wipes and nutritional supplements.

Expedia sends $25 mil acc't to Deutsch

[redmond, wash.] Expedia (www.expedia.com) is expected to send its estimated $20 million to $25 million account to Deutsch, Marina del Rey, Calif., following a review. This is the site's first agency of record; McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Seattle, previously handled project work. Microsoft, the majority owner of the online travel site, filed for a $75 million stock offering of Expedia last week, citing plans to pursue an aggressive brand-building strategy through advertising.

H-P recruits Saatchi, Goodby

[palo alto, calif.] Hewlett-Packard Co. said two of its roster agencies -- Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Saatchi & Saatchi, both San Francisco -- will collaborate on a global corporate brand assignment estimated at $100 million-plus. The campaign, initiated by new Hewlett President-CEO Carly Fiorina, is expected to begin by yearend. The global effort will use one strategy for all Hewlett's disparate businesses. Goodby will take the lead on strategic and creative efforts, while Saatchi will spearhead international markets and media (See adage.com for more details).

IPG expands Octagon sports brand

[new york] Interpublic Group of Cos.' 2-year-old sports and marketing holding group, Octagon, will be branding its name onto all 34 sports companies it owns or has partnerships with worldwide. Its U.S.-based sports marketing group, Advantage International, will be called Octagon Athlete Management. Other worldwide divisions will be Octagon CSI (TV production and distribution), Octagon Marketing (event management) and Octagon Motor Sports.

Bacardi gives $50 mil acc't to DeWitt

[miami] Bacardi USA has selected DeWitt Media, New York, to handle U.S. media for its $30 million to $50 million account, including Bacardi rums, Dewar's Scotch whisky and Bombay Sapphire gin. The incumbent was Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York. AAR/Bob Wolf Partners, New York, handled the review.

Mercedes loses 2 top marketing execs

[montvale, n.j.] Mercedes-Benz USA will have a new team of marketing executives soon, pending the departures of President-CEO Michael Jackson and VP-Marketing Joe Eberhardt. Mr. Jackson, who is leaving to become CEO of AutoNation USA, will be replaced by Paul Halata, CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.K. Mr. Eberhardt will move to CEO of the U.K. organization, which as of Jan. 1 will oversee all Daimler-Chrysler brands and be renamed DaimlerChrysler U.K.

Udell will take brand post at Limited after exiting 'Self'

[columbus, ohio] Rochelle Udell, editor in chief of Conde Nast Publications' Self, was named to the new post of senior VP-brand development for The Limited. Ms. Udell announced this summer she was leaving Self.

Teufel making early exit from key post at Rodale

[emmaus, pa.] Robert J. Teufel, 62, will step down as president and chief operating officer of magazine publisher Rodale. Despite earlier plans to retire in 2002 at age 65, Mr. Teufel said he now believes "decisions affecting the future of the company and its long-term strategic goals should be made by someone with a longer commitment."

F.Y.I.

The Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission scheduled an unusual joint forum Nov. 4 about long-distance service advertising, because of "a general concern" that ads for "10-10" long distance service may not be adequately disclosing terms. . . . TruServe Corp. has opened a review after Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, resigned the hardware retailer's account after five years. . . . Fred Sattler to exec VP-executive media director of Doner, Detroit, a new position, from managing partner and media director of TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco. . . . Hoover Co. has narrowed the search for its $25 million account to four Chicago shops: J. Walter Thompson, FCB Worldwide, Leo Burnett USA, and DDB Worldwide. Jones-Lundin Associates, Chicago, is handling. Incumbent Euro RSCG Tatham was not invited to pitch. . . . Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will name its first-ever spokesman this week, with former hockey star Wayne Gretzky set to help launch the Ultra Grip, a snow and ice tire. . . . Blue Cross & Blue Shield Association has named three Chicago agencies as finalists for its $14 million account: BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather and incumbent FCB Worldwide. . . . Richard Kinsler, 57, to publisher of Times Mirror Magazines Popular Science, from exec VP-publishing group, Playboy Enterprises, and publisher of Playboy. . . . All Nippon Airways, Tokyo, to Y&R Advertising, New York, for its $5 million U.S.

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