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Coke delays contested shift of brands to FCB

[atlanta] Coca-Cola Co. put the brakes on plans to reassign advertising for Dasani water and Powerade sports drink to Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide pending the outcome of litigation brought by rival PepsiCo against FCB and parent Interpublic Group of Cos. Dasani remains at Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York, and Powerade at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. PepsiCo's lawsuit seeks to bar certain FCB staffers who worked on PepsiCo's Aquafina and Gatorade from working on rival Coke brands. Coca-Cola said Dasani and Powerade need to develop advertising plans for next year now. Other Coca-Cola brands headed to FCB include Fruitopia, Hi-C and Minute Maid juices and Aquarius, a sports drink in Europe and Japan.

Adidas shops for network, signs search consultant

[amsterdam] De Positionergins Grope here was signed as a search consultant to help German sports goods marketer Adidas draw up a shortlist of international networks. Adidas is considering hiring a network to work with its lead creative agency, Leagas Delaney, London, and Amsterdam shop 180 on its estimated $100 million global account. Neil Simpson, Adidas head of global brand concepts and advertising, is overseeing the search.

Pair get key McDonald's posts

[oak brook, ill.] McDonald's Corp. elevated two division marketing leaders to key national marketing posts. Dan Ryan was named VP-U.S. marketing, in charge of the marketing calendar, from assistant VP-Southeast division. He succeeds R.J. Milano, senior VP-U.S. marketing, in charge of the calendar and kid innovations, who resigned. Neil Golden was named VP-U.S. marketing, in charge of strategy, from assistant VP-West division. Mr. Ryan will oversee restaurant promotions and Happy Meal marketing. Mr. Golden will oversee menu programs, including the New Tastes Menu, McDonald's confirmed.

Ford Division prepares new brand strategy

[dearborn, mich.] Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division is preparing a new brand strategy, due early next year. Francisco Codina, Ford Division general marketing manager, told Ad Age the strategy "will focus more effort on the blue oval." WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, handles.

Moody's lowers Interpublic debt rating

[new york] Moody's Investors Services downgraded $2.7 billion of Interpublic Group of Cos. debt securities Nov. 9 and confirmed its negative long-term credit outlook for the company based on the weak ad climate and Interpublic's increasing debt load to fund its ongoing restructuring. Senior unsecured debt was rated Baa1, down from A3, and subordinated debt was rated Baa2, down from Baa1. Interpublic, Publicis Groupe and Havas Advertising are due to release quarterly results this week.

Steep earnings drop at Ziff Davis Media

[new york] Ziff Davis Media reported earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for the quarter ended Sept. 30 fell 82.2% to $3.9 million on a 39.4% fall in revenue to $59.9 million. It was the company's first earnings report since the August ouster of then Chairman-CEO Jim Dunning. Ad pages in Ziff Davis Media titles declined 47.2% from the year ago quarter. (See related story, P. 14.)

Star Scientific tests new smokeless brand

[chester, va.] Ariva, a smokeless tobacco product from Star Scientific, is expected to begin test marketing in Dallas and Richmond, Va., this week. A hard, pellet-like lozenge, Ariva targets cigarette smokers restricted by no-smoking policies. "When you can't smoke" is its positioning. Star declined comment on the Ariva agency and on ad spending plans.

FYI

Hasbro tapped Omnicom Group's Tracy Locke Partnership, Dallas, for creative and promotions on its Tiger Electronics unit following a review among its roster shops. Posnick & Kolker, New York, previously handled. Executives close to the marketer believe the combined brands represent $55 million to $65 million, about one-third of Hasbro's total media spending. Hasbro did not disclose spending plans. Grey Global Group's MediaCom, New York, handles media. ... General Motors Corp. signed with William Morris Agency, Los Angeles, for a one-year deal intended to link the auto marketer to major entertainment properties, including film, music, TV and sports-related projects. The Morris assignment excludes product placement, handled by GM agency Norm Marshall & Associates, Sun Valley, Calif. ... Verizon said attorneys general for 22 states are investigating advertising and marketing by wireless telecom service providers and have requested information from Verizon. The disclosure came in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing by the marketer ... TBWA/Chiat/Day is seeking a managing director for its New York office, a new post. Spokesman Jeremy Miller said Carl Johnson, currently chief operating officer of TBWA/Chiat/Day Worldwide, will continue as president-CEO of the New York office. ... Havas Advertising's Arnold Worldwide laid off about 20 people, or 3% of its staff, in its third round of layoffs this year. The cuts came across all levels and all departments in the Boston headquarters, a spokeswoman said. ... Minnesota Department of Health selected Clarity Coverdale Fury, Minneapolis, to handle its $12 million to $14 million, two-year teen anti-smoking account, effective Jan. 1 (see related item P. 22). Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, was the previous agency. ... Same-store sales grew 9% year over year at Tricon Global Restaurants' Taco Bell for the four weeks ended Nov. 3, compared to a 12% decline a year ago. Taco Bell broke a tech-themed ad campaign in October that promotes its grilled quesadillas and ties in with the launch of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox game console. Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, San Francisco, handles Taco Bell. ... National TV networks saw a slight uptick in the fourth-quarter scatter market. CPMs were said by agency executives to be 1% to 2% above upfront pricing amid signs of tightening commercial inventory.

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