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Zenith upgrades ad spending forecast

[london] Zenith Optimedia Group upgraded its ad spending forecast to a 0.1% drop in U.S. spending and a drop of 0.3% for worldwide major media spending, up from a July forecast of a 1.2% drop in the U.S. and a 0.5% global drop. The media buyer-partly owned by Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications Group Worldwide-upped the U.S. market's 2002 forecast by $1.6 billion to $135.5 billion, thanks to heavy spending in local media by political candidates and auto, retail, telecom and entertainment marketers. Overseas, Zenith downgraded its expectations for Japan, Germany and Italy based on weaker-than-expected results during the first half, partly offset by improvement in Spain and in the U.K., where TV outlays were boosted by World Cup soccer broadcasts. Separately, Merrill Lynch & Co. downgraded spending expectations for next year, saying marketers remain wary of spending and new product launches remain few.

Kmart asks TV network for flexibility on buys

[troy, mich.] In an unusual move, Kmart Corp. has asked at least one network to give it more short-term flexibility to cut TV media buys, a high level TV network executive familiar with the situation said. Kmart, in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and undergoing a Federal accounting investigation, has asked to be put on a month-to-month cycle instead of the usual longer term quarterly buy-option structure, he said. Only movie companies, which pay higher rates, typically have these kinds of arrangements. "We are taking it under consideration," the executive said. A Kmart spokesman declined to comment.

Elements of McDonald's turnaround unveiled

[las vegas] McDonald's Corp.'s turnaround plan presented to 350 key franchisees here last week includes a billion dollar remodeling and rebuilding program, a national value menu and a $40 million increase in national franchisee advertising. The value menu will be supported by advertising, believed to be assigned to Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago. DDB referred calls to McDonald's. A McDonald's spokesman said "reinvestment" will be made on a case-by-case basis and that it would be "wrong" to speculate about specific numbers. The program underwhelmed some franchisees in attendance. "It's not taking the leadership role we need to take. It's parity at best," said one. See the full story at Adage.com QwikFIND aan94z.

More pressure against liquor ads

[washington] Two members of Congress and the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving are stepping up their push for Capitol Hill hearings on TV liquor ads. In a letter circulating on Capitol Hill last week and due to be sent to the House Energy and Commerce Committee this week, U.S. Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., and Frank Wolf, R-Va., call the hearing of "vital importance" and urge the committee to examine "the appropriateness" of ad placements on TV and "whether voluntary ... standards are effective in minimizing young viewers' exposure to alcohol advertisements." MADD wrote all congressmen urging them to sign the letter. The Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. called hearings "unnecessary."

Men's Wearhouse head guarantees integrity

[san francisco] Men's Wearhouse Chairman-CEO George Zimmer, who has spent an estimated $200 million over the past 15 years guaranteeing his store's products, takes on corporate integrity issues in a new spot breaking today. "I can't guarantee how other people run their businesses," he says shaking his head after a camera pans a newspaper headline on corporate integrity, "but I'm pretty good at guaranteeing how we run ours." Independent San Francisco shop Red Ball Tiger is the agency.

`Wall Street Journal' advertising VP leaves

[new york] Steve Howe, VP-advertising at The Wall Street Journal, left the paper Sept. 6. He will not be replaced, and those who reported to him will now report to Paul Atkinson, senior VP-advertising for the Journal, who returned to the Journal (where he'd previously served in Mr. Howe's position) from AOL Time Warner on June 28. Mr. Howe, 48, had been at the Journal since 1978. He did not respond to requests for comment. Mr. Howe's departure was internally announced in late August.

BK launches 99 cents value menu

[miami] Diageo's Burger King Corp. on Sept. 15 will launch its 99 cents BK Value Menu. The move puts the No. 2 burger chain ahead of share leader McDonald's Corp. in setting a national value platform. Hidden-camera TV spots show a "talking" menu board that stops passersby (AA, July 31). Interpublic's Deutsch, Los Angeles and New York, handles.

FYI ...

American Honda Motor Co. gives a $75-million sendoff today for its seventh-generation Accord in USA Today and on ABC's "Monday Night Football." The four TV spots are from Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica. All end with "More Accord than ever." Following the Accord launch, Honda will launch three new spots for the Civic. ... Schering-Plough has shifted its Nasonex allergy spray account to the Quantum Group, part of WPP Group's CommonHealth, people familiar with the matter said. The account had been at Alchemy, a unit of Interpublic `s Lowe & Partners Worldwide. ... Nigella Lawson, cooking world hottie and hostess of Style Network's "Nigella Bites," will pen an every-other-weekly column for The New York Times beginning Sept. 18. The column will appear in the paper's "Dining Out/Dining In" section, and focus on casual cooking and entertaining. ... McDonald's Corp.'s Boston Market has put its $21 million account into review, confirmed a spokeswoman. She wouldn't disclose the participants but said its incumbent agency of six years, Interpublic's Suissa Miller, Los Angeles, would defend the business. Spending on the account has dwindled from $59 million in 1998 to $21 million last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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