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[LONDON] WPP Group is seen as the lead contender to acquire Cordiant Communications Group and could announce a deal early this week that would mark the end of Cordiant's Bates agency as a separate network. If shareholders accept the WPP offer, Bates would be folded into WPP's J. Walter Thompson in the U.S., where both agencies handle Pfizer, persons familiar with the situation said. In other countries, Bates could become part of such WPP networks as Red Cell. On June 13, U.K.-based Cordiant shareholder Active Value, which has opposed a sale and tried to oust Cordiant's management and install its own team, upped its Cordiant stake to 16.75% from 14.1%. Cordiant also confirmed the sale of its 77.3% stake in European network Scholz & Friends to management and venture capital firm Electra European Fund.

IOC talks to agencies about image campaign

[new york] The International Olympic Committee talked to at least four agencies last week about an assignment to position the Switzerland-based IOC as an agent for peace and a rejuvenator of cities, said people familiar with the review. Spending was not disclosed. The agencies include Omnicom Group's TBWA Worldwide, an IOC agency in 1999, and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi. IOC Chief Marketing Officer Michael Payne did not return calls. Spokespersons for TBWA and Saatchi declined to comment.

Keshin tapped to head McCann North America

[new york] Eric Keshin was named regional director of Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson North America, succeeding Mark Gault, who died last month. Mr. Keshin, 44, moving up from general manager of McCann-Erickson's New York office, will oversee agencies in 19 cities in the U.S. and Canada, including New York, where he will direct the flagship agency office along with McCann, New York, Chairman-Chief Creative Officer Nina DiSesa.

Coca-Cola in search for marketing execs

[atlanta] Coca-Cola Co., with new Chief Marketing Officer Dan Palumbo arriving early next month, is looking to hire a small number of high-level executives for its global marketing department, said people familiar with the company. Coca-Cola declined to comment. One position to be filled is that of global brand manager for Coca-Cola Classic, responsibilities previously handled by an internal team.

GM opens U.K. review for buying and planning

[london] General Motors Corp. is reviewing agencies to consolidate media planning and buying for its Vauxhall, Saab and Daewoo brands in the U.K. Spending was not disclosed. The Initiative Media and Universal McCann units of Interpublic are the incumbents. An undisclosed list of agencies has been invited to participate. GM earlier consolidated media buying and planning in Germany and Spain.

Ex-Ford exec named Hyundai marketing VP

[fountain valley, calif.] Hyundai Motor America named Brian Miller to VP-marketing, succeeding Dave Weber, who left Hyundai last August. Mr. Miller, marketing director for Continental Automotive Systems, previously held key marketing posts at Ford Motor Co. from 1977 to 2001. Independent Richards Group, Dallas, handles Hyundai.

`Terminator,' Tundra co-star in Toyota ads

[Torrance, Calif.] Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota division breaks a national TV campaign on the major broadcast TV networks June 18 featuring Warner Bros.' "Terminator 3:The Rise of the Machines" in Toyota's first big multimillion-dollar movie tie-in. The spot is to air for a month and features Toyota's special-edition T3 Tundra pickup, which is seen in the movie. Spending was not disclosed. Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Los Angeles, also created a print ad breaking in four titles this week. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aao73n

Seven Up's dnL to break first national ad push

[plano, texas] Cadbury Schweppes' Dr Pepper/Seven Up at the end of July will break its first national advertising for new soft drink dnL, a TV and radio effort via WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York, the company said. Y&R's Brand Buzz unit handles non-traditional marketing. dnL, billed as the upside-down or "flipped" 7Up, is a caffeinated, bright green soda with fruit flavors and began rolling out nationally earlier this year. Spending was not disclosed. The number of spots and creative is not yet determined.

FYI...

AOL Time Warner's America Online is expected to tap Interpublic's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston and New York, for broadcast and print ads to promote the integration of Time Inc. magazine content into the AOL service, said executives familiar with the matter. Spending was not disclosed. ... Agencies invited to pitch the $90 million account of Kao Corp.'s Andrew Jergens Co., say executives familiar with the review, include independents Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners and Cliff Freeman & Partners; Omnicom's Merkely Newman Harty Partners; WPP's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell; Havas' Arnold Worldwide; Interpublic's Avrett Free & Ginsberg and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos; Publicis-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty; Publicis' Fallon; and Maxxcom's Margeotes Fertitta & Partners. All are based in New York City. Consultant AAR Partners, New York, handles. ... PepsiCo's Pepsi-Cola Co. is talking to Omnicom agencies about ideas for Aquafina bottled water, currently handled by Omnicom's Element 79 Partners, Chicago, said executives familiar with the situation. ... Sears, Roebuck and Co. named Robert J. O'Leary, 52, senior VP-public relations, communications and government affairs, succeeding Ron Culp, effective July 1. Mr. O'Leary had been senior VP-global communications, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. ... Two senior new-business executives have left Havas' Euro RSCG MVBMS, New York: Executive Director-Business Development Neilan Tyree and Director of New Business Mike Carroll (see story, P. 4). Mr. Tyree, leaving after seven months, said he will continue to work for the agency on a project basis. Mr. Carroll could not be reached. A spokesman for the agency declined to comment. ... Michael Harris was named president of Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding Southern California, Irvine, Calif., succeeding Jim Harrington. Mr. Harris, 40, had been president of the Boston office of FCB promotion marketing agency Marketing Drive. FCB said Mr. Harrington will work on special projects at FCB.

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