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IBM to consolidate direct marketing

[armonk, n.y.] IBM Corp. is said to be consolidating its direct marketing assignments, the majority of which are handled by WPP Group sibling shops OgilvyOne and Wunderman, both New York, and Havas Advertising's Brann Worldwide, Wilton, Conn. The tech giant also uses a variety of smaller shops for direct marketing. An IBM spokeswoman declined to comment; the agencies were not available for comment. WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, is agency of record for IBM's more than $600 million advertising account.

General Nutrition Centers looking for new agency

[pittsburgh] Vitamin and supplement retailer General Nutrition Centers, a division of Netherlands-based Royal Numico, quietly has begun to shop around for a new agency. The retailer, currently facing a flurry of lawsuits from franchisees over advertising and other issues, earlier this summer broke a campaign from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, New York, based on the classic film "Fantastic Voyage." Roberta Gaffa, senior VP-marketing of GNC, declined to comment on the search, but issued a statement saying the retailer "will be expanding our marketing initiative with existing and new partners in 2002." GNC spent $26.3 million in media last year and $16.5 million for January through May of this year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres CMR. "We haven't heard anything," said a spokeswoman for Deutsch, adding that Deutsch isn't GNC's exclusive agency.

Focus Agency denies closure rumors

[dallas] Despite a report that Omnicom Group's Focus Agency closed its doors Aug. 24 after losing its sole client Shell Energy a day earlier, agency executives have not determined the fate of the shop, said Mark Miller, president of Focus and also Rapp Collins Worldwide, Dallas. "It's a little premature to say it's closing its doors," said Mr. Miller. "Neither I nor Omnicom nor Rapp Collins has figured out a plan yet."

Mitsubishi to use pop song for new spots

[new york] "One Week," a song by popular band Barenaked Ladies is featured in soon-to-break TV commercials promoting Mitsubishi Motors of America's all-new compact sedan, Lancer. Created by Interpublic's Deutsch, Los Angeles, three 15-second spots break on Sept. 3 and a 30-second ad debuts Sept. 6. The campaign is part of Mitsubishi Motors' $300 million account with Deutsch.

Pork producer to get aggressive

[smithfield, va.] Smithfield Foods, the largest U.S. pork producer, plans to bump up the growth of its branded meat products through increased marketing and acquisitions. In order to compete with the merger of poultry marketer Tyson Foods with beef and pork processor IBP, Smithfield plans to spend between $20 million and $40 million against a marketing campaign set to begin in early spring 2002, according to Credit Suisse First Boston analyst David Nelson.

WB wants prime prices for `Charmed' reruns

[new york] According to Electronic Media, AOL Time Warner's WB Network is asking advertisers to pay the same cost per thousand for national commercials running in first-run episodes of "Charmed" on the WB and repurposed episodes running later in the week on sibling TNT. It also wants to `cume' the ratings, allowing the WB to meet rating guarantees by counting viewers of both shows. "Prime time is prime time," said Jed Petrick, president-chief operating officer, the WB. But one senior negotiator at a buying agency said, "I cannot believe a major agency will buy into this."

Glassberg gets post at News Corp. unit

[new york] Richy Glassberg, the former chairman-CEO of now-defunct Phase2Media, is the new senior VP-advertising sales for News Corp.'s Speedvision, a Fox cable channel devoted to automobile, motorcyle and boat racing. Mr. Glassberg is responsible for building an ad sales team and selling all cable, digital and property advertising, as well as sponsorships and entitlements. Phase2Media, an internet ad rep company based in New York, closed its doors June 29 after a two-year run. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 18.

FYI

Midas narrowed the finalists for its $50 million creative advertising account to four agencies. Continuing in the review are a team of Bcom3 Group's Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, and Moroch & Associates, Dallas; Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York; and Square One, Dallas. A decision is expected in late September. ... Valerie Muller, senior VP-director of print at Grey Global's MediaCom, is leaving the company at the end of August, owing to what she characterized as "managerial differences."

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