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Cable and syndication nearing end of upfront

[new york] For cable and syndication, the nightmare of this year's disastrous advertising upfront marketplace is nearly over, with 60% to 70% of advertising inventory sold for top-tier programming. USA Network, for example, is about 60% to 65% sold on targeted upfront selling goal, according to advertising executives close to the network. USA still needs to deal with four media agencies to complete its upfront activities. Cost-per-thousand prices for many big established cable networks are down some 15% to 18% vs. a year ago. CPMs for syndicators are dropping more substantially than cable-averaging 20% or more vs. a year ago.

Nissan rolls spots for facelifted Xterra

[carson, calif.] Nissan North America launches the 2002 Nissan Xterra sport utility tonight on national cable and network TV in an estimated $40 million push that will continue into 2002. The first of three 30-second spots filmed in Australia from Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., shows the facelifted SUV driving up a sand dune; its driver sandboards down. Nissan's Peter Goodwin, ad director, said the SUV is a key vehicle to bring newcomers to the brand.

Market anticipating WPP bid on Tempus

[london] Tempus Group's high $8.14 share price-up from $5.04 the day before Havas Advertising launched a bid for the media specialist on July 24-indicates the stock market is anticipating a counterbid from biggest shareholder WPP Group, but analysts said there are compelling reasons that may not happen. Havas's offer of $7.57 a share was already a 50% premium on the Tempus share price, making a counteroffer pricey.

Grey wins $12 mil Papa Murphy's account

[vancouver, wash.] Papa Murphy's, a chain of 650 take-and-bake pizza stores in 35 markets, awarded its anticipated $12 million advertising account to Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, San Francisco. The chain, planning to open an additional 100 stores by the end of the year, will break new ads in September. Mering & Associates, Sacramento, and Woodson & Neuroth, Beaverton, Ore., previously worked with Papa Murphy's.

Big 3-owned TV station to air liquor ad

[providence, r.i.] In a precedent-setting move, a TV station owned by one of the Big 3 networks has given the tentative OK to run a commercial for a distilled-spirit beverage, Electronic Media reports today. WJAR-TV, the NBC-owned station here, will likely run a commercial for Diageo's Baileys Irish Cream next month. General Electric Co.'s NBC allowing its owned station to run the ad is a landmark decision. While nearly 200 TV stations have run distilled-spirits ads since 1996, none have run on ABC, CBS, NBC or Fox, or on any of the TV stations owned and operated by these networks. For years, the networks and their owned stations only ran ads for products that have an alcohol content by volume of up to about 14%; Baileys has an alcohol content of 17% by volume.

IAB issues guidelines for rich media formats

[new york] The Interactive Advertising Bureau will issue voluntary guidelines for rich media formats today. Many of the suggestions the IAB gives in the new guidelines have to do with acceptable file sizes so that user experience isn't disrupted. The guideline for a rich media banner, for instance, calls for the initial load to be no more than 15,000 bytes, with an additional 85,000 bytes allowed if the user takes action that indicates interest in the advertiser. Earlier guidelines regarding ad sizes, released in February, have gained definite traction with online publishers and advertisers. According to a June study by Jupiter Media Metrix's AdRelevance, 21% of the sites it monitors were using some of the large IAB formats as opposed to 4% at the time the guidelines were announced. (See for more.)

AKQA cuts staff, loses senior executives

[san francisco] AKQA, the Accenture-backed combination of online and offline marketing disciplines, has let go a large a number of workers at its San Francisco office, according to some current and former employees, and several senior executives are said to be in the process of leaving the company. The office had employed more than 125 people as of earlier this year. Ad executives in the San Francisco area also said that they have heard that the remaining AKQA employees had been forced to take pay cuts of as much as 10%. AKQA's main San Francisco client is Palm. Among the departing executives are believed to be Bill Erosh, chief financial officer, and Bob Poulin, chief global officer. Agency Chief Operating Officer Tom Bedecarre didn't return calls. Meanwhile, Visa Interactive is said to have narrowed its search to two i-shops, one of them believed to be AKQA. Select Resources International, which handled the review, said a decision would be announced this week.


Bacardi USA consolidated its media agency-of-record responsibilities in the United States with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann New York, effective immediately. Billings are estimated at $40 million to $45 million. ... MTVi, the interactive unit of Viacom's MTV Networks, will relaunch its site within the next few weeks to put more focus on community elements and integrate those elements with the site's content and the brand's cable channels, MTV and MTV2. ... Lawrence Minard, 51, died while climbing Mount Rainier in Seattle, Wash., Aug. 2. Mr. Minard was the founding editor of Forbes Inc.'s Forbes Global, the international edition of Forbes magazine. ... Bcom3 Group's Starcom MediaVest, Chicago, named Scott Neslund, 35, and Patrick O'Connor, 38, senior VPs. Mr. Neslund began his career at Starcom 13 years ago and now is managing director of Starcom Canada. Mr. O'Connor is finance director for Starcom North America. ... Ground Zero creative team Paul Foulkes and Tyler Hampton, both 32, have joined Odirone Narraway Wilde & Partners' London office as its first creative directors.

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