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Ogilvy & Mather resigns ailing WebMD account

[new york] Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, resigned the WebMD account and is consulting on the online health information provider's search for a new agency, an executive close to the company said. Atlanta-based WebMD Corp., which spent $25.6 million on measured media in the first half of 2000, according to Competitive Media Reporting, could not be reached for comment at press time. The troubled dot-com reported a third-quarter net loss of $786.9 million on revenue of $151.2 million.

Richemont consolidates $100 mil account at CIA

[zug, switzerland] Compagnie Financiere Richemont AG, the Swiss group with a large stable of luxury brands including Cartier and Montblanc, consolidated its estimated $100 million-plus European media buying account at London-based media buying and planning specialist CIA, effective Jan. 1. The Tempus Group subsidiary won in a pitch against Omnicom Group's OMD Worldwide, WPP Group's MindShare and the Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media Worldwide.

Wilhite steps down from Apple

[cupertino, calif.] Steve Wilhite, Apple Computer's VP-marketing communication, resigned last week after a year and a half executing the company's marketing strategy. Mr. Wilhite, a former marketing executive with Volkswagen of America, worked closely with Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is widely known for his hands-on role in Apple advertising. Messrs. Wilhite and Jobs worked together implementing the company's ubiquitous "Think Different" ad campaign and managing the relationship with Apple ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. Mr. Wilhite's plans were not known, and no replacement has been named, according to an Apple spokeswoman. The departure comes as Apple last month reported weaker-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter results and creative churn within the agency. TBWA creative director Ken Segall, a key executive on the Apple account, recently joined Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, on the Intel Corp. account.

Register.com seeks new agency

[new york] As part of a planned expansion, the domain-name registry Register.com is seeking a new agency to handle its account, estimated at $35 million. Register.com, which formed in July of 1999, launched a $2 million print campaign in October 1999, followed by a $10 million television effort last May. The incumbent, Concept Farm, New York, will not participate in the review.

Publicis wins pan-Euro Coke assignment

[london] Coca-Cola Co. gave Publicis, its agency of record in Europe, a special assignment to promote the Coca-Cola brand with a European ad campaign next year, according to people familiar with the project. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Leo Burnett Co. and U.K. independent Soul also are said to have pitched for the work. It's another step toward Coca-Cola Co. Chairman-CEO Douglas Daft's new marketing goal of "think local, act local." For years, 80% of Coke ad initiatives in Europe were directed from Atlanta headquarters; the new assignment gives Coke marketers in Europe greater autonomy. Publicis already works with the soft-drink giant in 21 European markets.

Postal Service says `Happy Wholidays'

[washington] In its first ever national use of a postal cancellation to promote a product, the U.S. Postal Service has started canceling millions of pieces of holiday mail with a "Happy Wholidays" postmark. The postmark is a reference to the movie "Dr. Suess's How the Grinch Stole Christmas," though the cancellation doesn't directly mention the movie. A Postal Service official said the Postal Service, Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment agreed to cross-promote each other, but no money changed hands. A post office plays a central role in the movie. The Postal Service also features related posters in post offices and is using imagery from the movie in holiday advertising. While the Postal Service has occasionally used cancellations to promote local events, the marketing-related cancellation postmark has never been used nationally.

Ford teams with ABC Sports for launch of new Escape SUV

[dearborn, mich.] Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division teamed up with ABC Sports for a promotion that kicks off today. The promotion is part of the launch of Escape, Ford's new small sport utility. Consumers can enter online at fordescapes.com or by phone at 1-866-to-escape to win one of 16 trips to college football bowl games. Sixteen Escapes also will be given away during televised bowl games. Promotional TV spots will air on ABC during each bowl game. The push is supported with magazine and newspaper ads and online. J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, handles Ford Division's advertising.

Polaroid narrows field to three for promotions account

[cambridge, mass.] Polaroid Corp. has selected three finalists as it searches for an agency to handle its $20 million promotions account: DVC Group, Morristown, N.J.; TLPartnership East of Wilton, Conn.; and Leo Burnett's Northstar, Chicago. A final decision is expected by Dec. 15. Dismissed from the review were Beyond DDB, Draft Worldwide and Zipatoni, all Chicago, as well as Ryan Partnership, Westport, Conn. Pile & Co. is handling. Communicator, Chicago, was the incumbent.

F.Y.I.

Barnes & Noble confirmed it is talking with Gemstar-TV Guide about forming a relationship that may include the development of e-book strategies. . . . General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac Grand Prix will, for the fifth consecutive year, be named sponsor of the Super Bowl's post-game show next year. D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich., handles. . . . Danone Group ended acquisition talks with Quaker Oats Co., saying in a statement that the financial terms would neither be "in the best interests of its shareholders, nor consistent with its stated strategy of creating shareholder value." . . . Cody-Kramer Imports is launching its first advertising effort for new Snapple Candy varieties. The campaign, from Richard Marlow Agency, New York, targets the New York metropolitan area that makes up one-third of Snapple's overall sales. . . . Bernadette Tracy, 57, president of NetSmart America, a New York online marketing consultancy, and an Advertising Age contributor, died on Nov. 11, in her home.

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