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[NEW YORK] Omnicom Group's Rapp Collins Worldwide, New York, has been told it lost the review for the AARP/ UnitedHealth Group direct marketing account, according to people familiar with the matter, and that United HealthGroup is negotiating a contract with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Draft, Chicago. The account has been variously estimated at between $25 million and $100 million. A Rapp Collins spokesman declined to comment. Executives at Draft and UnitedHealth Group's Ovations unit, which handles the AARP program, could not be reached.

NBA, Universal open joint `Hulk' campaign

[new york] Universal Pictures and the National Basketball Association launched a joint ad campaign May 11 that intersperses highlights of NBA action with clips from Universal's upcoming summer release "The Hulk." Spending was not disclosed. The ads will run during NBA playoff telecasts and on NBA-related programming on TNT, ESPN and ABC through the NBA playoffs leading up to the movie's June 20 release. The three TV networks are handling creative.

Unilever's All to battle P&G's Febreze, Dryel

[greenwich, conn.] Unilever plans to expand its All value brand into spray fabric refreshers and "revitalizer" dryer cloths in August, said an executive familiar with its plans. All Fabric Refreshers' positioning is similar to Procter & Gamble Co.'s Febreze, but All Revitalizer dryer cloths are positioned differently than P&G's Dryel. They're intended for use on both dry-clean-only garments and other fabrics "between washings." Spending wasn't disclosed. A retail executive expects $10 million to $20 million in ad support. Interpublic's Lowe, New York, handles All.

ING signs $30 mil alliance with AOL

[atlanta] Financial-services marketer ING said it signed a three-year, $30 million media and marketing alliance with AOL Time Warner's Global Marketing Solutions group. CNN/Money will develop, host and design INGMoneyMentor.com, a personal-finance center on ing.com, and give ING the ability to target America Online users. Users can choose from several multimedia segments with content from AOL Time Warner's TBS, Warner Bros. Entertainment and Time Inc.

Internet's MSN lands `upfront' ad orders

[redmond, wash.] Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Internet portal won an estimated $10 million to $15 million in digital-media commitments in conjunction with the broadcast TV networks' upfront, MSN Chief Revenue Officer Joanne Bradford said. MSN also renewed 80% of its retail business, amounting to about $75 million. MSN counts six automakers, three Hollywood studios and one financial-services company among the advertisers committing upfront dollars. Ms. Bradford did not identify the advertisers.

Moody's says downgrade possible for IPG debt

[new york] Moody's Investors Service placed long-term debt of Interpublic in review for a possible downgrade, citing continued weak revenue and rising expense trends reported in its first-quarter results (see story, P. 8). A downgrade could drop all Interpublic long-term debt below investment grade; now, some is rated Baa3, the lowest investment-grade rating, and some is rated Ba1, the highest "junk" rating. Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, which cut Interpublic to junk in March, said Interpublic's first-quarter performance did not affect its ratings or outlook for the company.

Ben & Jerry's ads celebrate `moments'

[burlington, vt.] Unilever Best Foods' Ben & Jerry's unit this week, in its first ads from Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, features special Ben & Jerry's "moments," including "date night" and "bad breakup," in which the ice cream figures prominently in a list of "things you need." The radio and outdoor campaign runs in select markets. Spending was not disclosed. Ben & Jerry's spent less than $1 million last year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Layoffs next at Mullen after loss of Nextel

[wenham, mass.] The Wenham and Winston-Salem, N.C., offices of Interpublic's Mullen are bracing for layoffs following the loss of its biggest account, the $160 million Nextel assignment, to Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York. Mullen CEO Joe Grimaldi said job cuts were coming but declined to say when or how many.

FYI...

Reports of a May 8 deadline for bidders to file expressions of interest in Cordiant Communications Group were denied by Cordiant, which said the "disposal process" was "going very well." Cordiant PR unit Financial Dynamics is expected to complete its management buyback in "a few weeks" for between $40 million and $48 million. ... An "orphan" account from shuttered D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, the U.K.'s $25 million McCain Foods ad business, was won by Omnicom Group's TBWA/London, besting Havas' Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper and Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, London. ... An Interpublic unit led by Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond will house its public relations assets following the dissolution of Interpublic's Advanced Marketing Services. Entertainment PR agencies PMK/HBH and Bragman, Nyman, Caffarelli will remain part of the Interpublic Sports & Entertainment Group. ... Interpublic's Universal McCann has launched Connections, a media-research consulting unit, to advise marketing clients inside and outside the agency, as well as media owners. ... Omnicom's BBDO Detroit, Troy, Mich., laid off 66 employees at various levels across all departments last week. ... XM Satellite Radio named Publicis Groupe's MediaVest, New York, and Aegis Group's Carat, New York, finalists for its media account, executives close to the situation said. ... David Florence, 49, was named president-chief operating officer of Interpublic's Draft, Chicago, a post vacant since last year, from president of Draft international. ... Pfizer moved $130 million in media buying and planning duties for the Pharmacia accounts it acquired last month to Aegis Group's Carat North America, New York, from Grey Global Group's MediaCom, New York. ... Brian Powley, 42, to director of business development at Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide and MRM Gould, San Francisco, from exec VP-business development at software company H Corp., San Francisco. ... Papa John's International awarded creative duties on its $45 million advertising account to Omnicom's Zimmerman Partners Advertising, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., without a review. The No. 4 pizza chain split with Interpublic's Austin Kelly, Atlanta, after just six months.

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