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[atlanta] Coca-Cola Co. and Chief Marketing Officer Steve Jones are parting ways, according to people familiar with the matter. Possible candidates for the spot include at least one outsider, Geoffrey Frost, corporate VP-global marketing and communications for Motorola's personal communications sector, who is in talks with the company. Coca-Cola's North American Chief Marketing Officer Chris Lowe could also be a candidate. Mr. Jones has seen his influence wane since President-Chief Operating Officer Steven J. Heyer's March 2001 arrival. Mr. Jones' office referred calls to a spokesman, who would only say Mr. Jones is the chief marketing officer for Coke. Mr. Frost could not immediately be reached.

Brown-Forman Corp. consolidates account

[new york] Brown-Forman Corp. has awarded its consolidated $160 million global media and buying account to Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann following a review with several undisclosed shops, according to executives close to the situation. The distillery group, based in Louisville, Ky., markets Jack Daniels and Southern Comfort among other brands. Executives at Universal McCann declined to comment. Jack Kennard, senior VP-director of global marketing services at Brown Forman, would not confirm the account consolidation.

Interpublic files motion for dismissal

[new york] Interpublic Group of Companies on Feb. 7, filed a motion to dismiss a federal securities class-action lawsuit against the company and a group of current and former Interpublic executives. The suit was filed Jan. 10, in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Judge Denise Cote will determine whether the suit should be dismissed or whether to proceed to the next stage, discovery.

DuPont reviewing all company advertising

[wilmington, del.] E.I. DuPont Nemours and Co. confirmed it is reviewing all company advertising and communications functions. The company sent out a request for information to agencies Feb. 7. Kathy Forte, VP-global public affairs for DuPont, refused to confirm reasons for the shake-up. A separate DuPont official, who didn't wish to be named, said, "We are doing a broad review of all our business spending, but we are not going to change all the agencies." Among DuPont's roster shops are Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York; Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York; Earle, Palmer Brown, New York and Philadelphia; and Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. DuPont spent $67 million on measured media in the first 11 months of 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

IRI explores partnerships after loss of P&G account

[chicago] Information Resources Inc. is exploring a merger or strategic partnership as it seeks to develop new technology and proprietary market-research data offerings following the loss of its Procter & Gamble Co. retail data account. In a conference call Feb. 6 to discuss fourth-quarter financial results, IRI Chairman-CEO Joseph Durrett said: "We believe we have the competency to evolve our business on our own. But at the same time we are exploring potential partners that might help expedite our progress."

Vanguarde finds an investor in ZelnickMedia

[new york] Vanguarde Media will announce ZelnickMedia Corp. is investing in the company, and that ZelnickMedia founder Strauss Zelnick, ex-CEO of BMG Entertainment, will serve on its board. Vanguarde, which publishes Savoy, Heart & Soul and Honey, last year took in slightly less than $25 million in revenue and recorded a loss of between $3 million and $6 million, said people familiar with the company. The amount of ZelnickMedia's investment was not disclosed, but one media executive who'd previously been approached by Keith Clinkscales, Vanguarde chairman-CEO, said the company had sought an eight-figure investment.

Farrell proposes structure for some Publicis units

[paris] Publicis Groupe's John Farrell, president-CEO of the specialized agencies and marketing services unit, presented his vision of how the company should organize its non-advertising activities to a senior management board last week. The reporting structures its PR and marketing shops could be unveiled in the next few weeks. Separately, around 130 staff from shuttered D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, are being relocated to Publicis Worldwide, New York, while another 50 are joining sibling Saatchi & Saatchi, New York. The Paris-based headquarters confirmed that 70 former D'Arcy staff are being cut.

Viacom Plus and Saturn make `Survivor' deal

[new york] Viacom Plus, Viacom's cross-platform sales and marketing arm, has reached a new multimillion-dollar cross-platform deal to promote General Motor Corp.'s Saturn Ion automobiles in and around "Survivor: The Amazon," set to debut Feb. 13 on CBS. The deal includes "Survivor" and Ion-related spots on MTV, VH1, TNN and CMT as well as on Infinity Broadcasting and Westwood One. The deal, which expands on an earlier overall deal making Ion the "official" car of "Survivor" is essentially a four-week ad blitz that includes a "Survivor: The Amazon" DVD, available only in Saturn showrooms, and a 30-minute cable television special that will air on MTV and VH1. GM Mediaworks, the automaker's in-house agency, and GM Planworks, the automaker's media planning operation managed by the Starcom MediaVest Group, were the two agencies involved in the deal.

FYI ...

Procter & Gamble Co. launched free online distribution of the single "Always (Thinking of You)," which grew out of an ad jingle for Cheer detergent from Publicis' Leo Burnett Co., Toronto. The song was written by singer Lisa Dalbello. ... PepsiCo's Gatorade has signed Houston Rockets rookie Yao Ming to a multi-year, multi-million dollar campaign. The 22-year old Chinese sensation will appear in a new spot in the spring. ... Christopher Dixon, managing director and global media strategist at UBS Warburg, has left the firm. ... BMW of North America has narrowed the list of agencies for its multicultural account from more than 60 to nine. James McDowell, VP-marketing, said BMW is now talking seriously to several shops he declined to identify.

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