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[basking ridge, n.j.] AT&T Corp. introduces a new tagline for its consumer business, "Talk is Good," in a TV campaign breaking today from WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York. AT&T will air 18 TV spots in 12 markets, customizing product offers by market. Print, radio, direct mail and Internet advertising also support. Spending was not disclosed. AT&T spent $350 million in measured media in the U.S. on consumer advertising in 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aao49q

Omnicom debt ratings lowered, IPG `watch' lifted

[new york] Omnicom Group's long- and short-term corporate credit ratings were downgraded by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services to A- from A and to A-2 from A-1, respectively. The rating agency also removed Omnicom's credit from CreditWatch, saying its outlook is now stable. Separately, S&P for the first time since August also removed Interpublic Group of Cos. from CreditWatch, signaling it's not contemplating another near-term credit downgrade.

CMO Jones exits Coke; successor now sought

[atlanta] Coca-Cola Co. is seeking a successor to Chief Marketing Officer Stephen C. Jones, who left last week to pursue other interests. The move was expected (AA, Feb. 10). Mr. Jones, who had been with Coca-Cola since 1986, had been chief marketing officer since 2000. Steven J. Heyer, who joined Coca-Cola in 2001, now oversees marketing as Coca-Cola president-chief operating officer. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aao52d

Oscar-night ad stars Sharon Stone for AOL

[dulles, va.] America Online will promote its AOL Broadband Service on ABC's March 23 Academy Awards telecast with a commercial featuring actress Sharon Stone, said people familiar with the matter. The AOL Time Warner unit declined to comment but Ms. Stone's publicist said the ad was shot March 13. Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles. Suggesting consumers will have a fun and satisfying experience with AOL Broadband and its content, the spot is said to depict Ms. Stone waking up with hair tousled and coyly saying what a great time she'd had. The spot cuts to AOL's running man icon emerging from the bedroom and sailing across the screen.

Yahoo! Personals gets Academy Award ad push

[sunnyvale, calif.] Yahoo! kicks off a campaign for Yahoo! Personals during ABC's March 23 Academy Awards broadcast. Havas' Black Rocket, San Francisco, handles. The ad, part of a larger "Believe" campaign, features whimsical vignettes of singles preparing for first dates. The campaign will later include cable and selected broadcast network TV buys, outdoor in selected markets, radio and Internet advertising and run through mid-May. Spending was not disclosed.

'02 spend up 4.2%; Toyota joins `top 10'

[new york] Toyota Motor Co. in 2002 joined the list of the 10 largest U.S. ad spenders and Pfizer dropped out of that ranking, based on measured media spending as tracked by Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. The other nine companies that made the list in 2001 returned in 2002 though Altria Corp., formerly Philip Morris Cos., fell to No. 10 from No. 5 in 2001. General Motors Corp., Procter & Gamble Co. and AOL Time Warner finished 2002 as Nos. 1, 2 and 3, as they did in 2001. CMR said U.S. ad spending rose 4.2% in 2002 (after falling 9.8% in 2001), led by an 8.4% increase in TV and radio spending. Local ad spending surged 11.1%, helped by political campaign ad spending, while national advertising was up 0.7%. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aao52m

Bausch & Lomb breaks first ads from Gotham

[rochester, n.y.] Bausch & Lomb breaks a $20 million campaign today, part of a strategy to promote both the brand and individual products. The effort, tagged "Perfecting Vision. Enhancing Life," is the first work for the eye-care company from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Gotham, New York, since it won the account last October.

WB delays show debut due to lack of sponsors

[new york] Lack of sponsors led AOL Time Warner's WB network to delay the debut of a groundbreaking commercial-free variety show, "Live From Tomorrow," in which sponsors would have had product-placement-like exposure during the program. The show was scheduled to air this summer. WB said it is still pushing ahead with a related billion-dollar game-show idea, underwritten by PepsiCo, also slotted for the summer.

Kmart marketing VP exits amid downsizing

[Troy, mich.] Kmart Corp. said Senior VP-Marketing Steve Feuling left in a corporate downsizing at the retailer. Mr. Feuling declined to comment. His duties, centered on TV advertising, will be assumed by Senior VP-Advertising Barbara Firment, now responsible for print and in-store advertising. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aao52a

FYI . . .

Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis, is dropping out of the pitch for American Legacy Foundation's $65 million anti-smoking ad account, said executives with knowledge of the situation. One executive said it opted to focus on other opportunities. Fallon declined to comment. Seven other agencies are expected to present for the business this week. ... Sears, Roebuck & Co. is considering a branding statement centered on how it can help people get more out of life, executives familiar with the discussions said. Another objective, it was said, is likely to be re-establishment of its male roots in store brands such as Craftsman tools. Sears Exec VP-Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Janine Bousquette was said to have made a major marketing presentation to the Sears board last week. A Sears spokeswoman declined to comment. ... Fallon Worldwide named Lisa Seward, media director at Fallon, Minneapolis, to be North American media director, responsible for the agency's Minneapolis and New York offices. Mary Gerzema, media director at Fallon in New York, is joining Interpublic's Universal McCann, New York, as a group account head for food and beverage accounts. ... J.C. Penney Co.'s Eckerd Corp. retained incumbent JA &G Advertising, Cincinnati, after a review, a spokeswoman for the drug chain said. Other participants were not disclosed. Eckerd spent $67.6 million in measured media in 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. ... Jeremy Postaer, group creative director at Omnicom's GSD&M, Austin, since 2000, left the agency this month to return to free-lancing, the agency said. ... Shell Oil Co.'s Jiffy Lube International unit breaks its $16 million 2003 ad campaign March 20 with more spending slated for TV than in 2002, when its emphasis was on radio. McCarthy Mambro Bertino, Boston, handles. ... Yum Brands' Taco Bell hired Paul Hogan, the butler from Fox's "Joe Millionaire" for a media- relations campaign tied to its Steak Quesadilla promotion that breaks March 16. Douglas Cohn & Wolfe handles.

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