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Universal McCann keeps Sony acc't through upfront

[culver city, calif.] Sony Pictures Entertainment is staying with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann, New York, through the upfront TV buying season, which runs through the summer, executives said. The $250 million review could resume this fall. Universal McCann has been pitching against Bcom3 Group's Starcom MediaVest, Chicago, and Publicis Groupe's and Cordiant Communications's Zenith Media Services, New York. Sony has other problems; reports surfaced that the studio used Sony employees acting as fans in TV spots for last year's "The Patriot." The Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the matter. Sony also used comments from a fictitious critic in ads.

FedEx to hear last-ditch presentation by BBDO

[memphis, tenn.] FedEx today will hear a last-ditch presentation from longtime agency BBDO Worldwide, an Omnicom Group agency, as the New York shop tries to save the $75 million account from going into review. However, executives close to the situation say FedEx is already angling for a new agency. The marketer is close to naming a review consultant and wants new creative on the air by the beginning of September, said one executive. Steve Pacheco, manager of advertising at Fedex, denied the account was in review. "We are eagerly awaiting BBDO's presentation," he said. "And then we will make a decision." A BBDO spokesman also denied there was a review.

More layoffs expected at Hill Holliday

[boston] After parting ways with Fidelity Investments, Interpublic's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos expects to lay off another 20 people within the next three months. Fidelity was the agency's sixth-largest client and represented just over 5% of revenues for the $145.1 million shop. The agency said Fidelity, with which it split June 15, increasingly represented a conflict with its largest client, FleetBoston Financial, though there had been talk of a split for months. Fidelity has farmed out brokerage work to Interpublic's Gotham, New York, as well as branding and interactive to Havas Advertising's Arnold Worldwide, Boston. In February, Hill Holliday laid off 28 people as a result of the slowing economy. Fidelity last year spent $172.5 million on measured media, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Arnold is believed to have the inside track to snag the account.

Agency shares fall on revised forecasts

[new york] Agency shares plunged June 15 after U.S. and European holding companies cut back earnings forecasts on fears of a continued slowdown. Shares of Interpublic and True North Communications dropped 14.6% and 14.9%, respectively. Interpublic stock closed at $30.74, down $5.26 and True North fell $6.08 to close at $34.76. Meanwhile, Publicis warned of slower growth in 2001. Cordiant also issued a warning (see P. 69).

Four top Leagas Delaney execs resign

[san francisco] The four top managers at Leagas Delaney's San Francisco office are leaving because they disagree with their London-based parent company's plans for future growth through a sale to an international advertising group. Creative Directors Harry Cocciolo and Sean Ehringer, Managing Director Courtney Buechert and Rob Kabus, the agency's strategic-planning director, have all resigned. Leagas Delaney has been negotiating a sale for months to Canada's Envoy Communciations, but the deal has stalled due to problems on both sides.

Pfizer, Viacom Plus discuss marketing pact

[new york] Pfizer is discussing an integrated marketing pact with Viacom Plus that would be worth more than $100 million, Electronic Media reports today. Lead on the deal would be CBS, where Pfizer, (including Warner-Lambert Co.) spent about $78 million last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. It would be the second-richest Viacom Plus deal to date, following the company's recent $300 million pact with Procter & Gamble Co.

FYI

The deadline for final bids for Emap USA's magazine unit has been postponed for a third time, to around June 22, said two executives familiar with the process. ... Omnicom is merging two of its smaller full-service agencies, the DDB Worldwide-owned Griffin Bacal and Moss Dragoti. ... Royal Ahold's Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. is searching for an agency for its $10 million account. Arnold had handled. ... Chrysler Group quietly a few weeks ago inked its contract with Omnicom's PentaMark Worldwide, Troy, Mich., which won the estimated consolidated $1.8 billion global account last November. Terms weren't disclosed.... In a potentially major blow to marketers, the U.S. Senate in passing an education bill added a measure from Sen. Christopher Dodd, R-Conn., limiting school districts from providing any marketer with information on students, even anonymous data, without first letting parents know and in some cases getting their authorization.... Benetton and the state of Missouri settled a lawsuit over a campaign featuring four inmates on Missouri's death row. The Italian clothing company will apologize to the inmates' victims' families and pay $50,000 to the Missouri Crime Victims Compensation Fund. ... Buick launches the estimated $35 million effort for its first truck, the Rendezvous SUV, this week.

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