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GM, Conde Nast resolve issues; ad hiatus to end

[new york] Though neither company confirmed it, last week General Motors Corp.'s advertising "hiatus" with Conde Nast Publications appeared to be ending. A GM spokesman said the car maker "is continuing its longstanding relationship with Conde Nast," but declined comment on the terms of any agreement. Conde Nast executives flew to Detroit May 10 for its annual fete with auto advertisers. "It seems to be resolved," said one executive involved in the situation, "but no one wants to go public yet." A Conde Nast spokesman did not return calls by press time.

FCB fire inspected by San Francisco arson squad

[san francisco] According to San Francisco arson squad inspector Darcy Keller, a fire at True North Communication's FCB Worldwide, San Francisco, took place at 2 p.m. on May 2, the day the agency cut 45 employees. The fire occurred in a conference room's wood file cabinet filled with magazines and papers. Employees put out the flames before the fire department arrived, she said, adding, "Somebody was mad." The incident is still under investigation. (See earlier story on AdAge.com.)

DreamWorks eyeing larger media agencies

[los angeles] DreamWorks SKG, Los Angeles, is talking to large media agencies about handling broadcast spot buying. According to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, the film studio spent $350 million on measured media in 2000. The incumbent shop is Omnicom Group's GSD&M in Austin, Texas, which has had the media buying and creative account for just 12 months. A GSD&M executive said that the studio has been "handholding" the agency while it becomes accustomed to the fast-changing movie-account media buying business. Another movie media executive suggested that GSD&M was not negotiating the best prices for its client. Executives at DreamWorks did not return phone calls by press time. GSD&M executives said they were not aware that DreamWorks was shopping around.

Media Edge, Fallon lay off employees

[new york and minneapolis] WPP Group's Media Edge laid off 25 employees or 5% of its staff within the last two weeks, according to executives at the media agency. Most of the cuts occurred in the New York office, said an executive, and were a result of the agency's loss of the Glaxo business, following the merger of the drug marketer with SmithKline Beecham and the subsequent consolidation of the media buying business with Grey Global Group's MediaCom. Separately, Fallon confirmed it has cut eight jobs, or 7% of its 108 staff, over recent weeks. The Publicis Groupe agency also has consolidated some broadcast production positions in Minneapolis, said Alison Burns, president of Fallon, New York.

Kids upfront off to slow start

[new york] The $850 million kids upfront is finally moving-with media buyers firmly in control. Broadcast and cable networks are posting mostly single-digit cost-per-thousand decreases vs. last year's pricing, according to buyers. Advertising estimates are that total national TV kids' ad dollars could drop as much as 20%. Viacom's Nickelodeon has sold about 50% of its upfront inventory, mostly through previous multiyear deals (AA, April 23) and about 50% of its inventory in Nick Jr., the Saturday morning programming block on sibling network CBS, according to media executives. AOL Time Warner's Cartoon Network has nearly half-sold its inventory as well. (See AdAge.com for full story.)

Blacker defects from StarMedia

[miami] In a high-level defection from New York-based Latin American Internet media company StarMedia Network, Peter Blacker is leaving his job as VP-global partnerships to join AOL Latin America in Miami as VP-interactive marketing today. The loss of one of StarMedia's top sales executives follows the company's announcement May 10 that staff will be cut by 25% and revenue projections lowered. (See AdAge.com for full story.)

Media spending down for third straight month

[new york] Media spending in February showed a third monthly decrease, according to new totals from CMR. Spending on the 10 major TV, radio and print media was down 8.5% to $6.4 billion, from $6.99 billion in January 2000. The preliminary totals did not include outdoor advertising. This is the first time in years the totals have shown a third straight monthly decline; December showed a drop of 0.2% in ad spending, followed by a drop of 8.8% for January. Cable and syndicated TV were the bright spots again, with increases of 0.7% and 3.2%, respectively. Spot TV and national newspapers were hardest hit, 22.9% and 21.4%, respectively, while national spot radio dropped 18.7%.

Boeing in trade deal with FSB and KSL Media

[new york] Boeing Co. has entered into a corporate trade deal with True North's sibling companies FCB, Seattle, and KSL Media, New York. Corporate Trade Solutions, New York, an African-American owned corporate trade company that recently embarked on a strategic alliance with KSL (AA, Feb. 19), has been converting Boeing's assets into credits that are being used by KSL to buy broadcast media time. According to Kal Liebowitz, KSL's CEO, there is a print component to the barter media plan waiting for approval by Boeing.

OTC allergy meds could mean less ad spending

[washington] Agencies handling lucrative direct-to-consumer accounts for prescription allergy drugs Claritin, Allegra and Zyrtec could get watery eyes if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration follows the advice of a panel recommending the popular drugs become available over the counter. The drugs account for millions each year in DTC ads, pleasing WPP's CommonHealth Quantum Group, Parisppany, N.J. (Schering-Plough's Claritin); Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson (Aventis's Allegra) and Deutsch, New York (Pfizer's Zyrtec). If the FDA reclassifies the drugs, marketers are likely to spend much less to support OTC allergy drugs, thus lowering agency billings.

Omnicom transfers shares to Seneca

[new york] Omnicom Group has completed the transfer of its stakes in Agency.com, Organic and Razorfish, to Seneca Investments LLC, in exchange for preferred stock in Seneca. Omnicom now beneficially owns less than 5% of its outstanding common shares of each. Seneca is believed to be the new name for what Omnicom had formerly referred to as Pegasus Partners II, with which it has announced plans to form an e-services holding company (AA, April 9). Omnicom officials could not be reached.

FYI

Toyota Motor Sales USA is spearheading its Japanese parent's move into Mexico in late 2003 or early `04. A spokesman said the earliest a search for an ad agency would start is later this year. ... Peggy Conlan, president-CEO of the Advertising Council, joined officials of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in endorsing legislation that would provide funding for a national ad campaign aimed at underage drinking. ... Leapnet has asked to meet with regulators of the Nasdaq market after the market threatened to delist its stock. Shares in the online marketing and communications company have been trading under $1 since late 2000 and closed at 35 cents May 11. ... Quaker Oats Co. is rolling Quaker Oats Nutrition for Women nationally in August. ... General Mills is rolling the first product of its 50-50 joint venture with DuPont, 8th Continent, a new brand of soy milk that hits retail shelves in July. ... Zenith Media, jointly owned by Cordiant Communications Group and Publicis Groupe, is starting a direct division under the leadership of Joe Shain, formerly president of SCP/ Rapp Collins Media, New York. ... Grey Global Group reported net income for the first quarter 2001 plummeted to $245,000, compared to $5.1 million for the same period in 2000. Gross billings climbed 6% to $2.03 billion, and revenue rose almost 6% to $304.8 million. Grey stated first-quarter results were adversely affected by "general weak business conditions in the U.S." It also noted "weakness, in particular, in a number of operations which had a concentration in serving ... technology-related and telecom sector clients."

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