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Grey Global Group shareholders will meet March 3 in New York to vote on WPP Group's acquisition of the agency holding company. Grey as of Jan. 31 had 444 shareholders. The deal received final approval from European antitrust regulators in January. WPP is set to buy Grey for a fixed amount of cash and a fixed number of WPP shares, a package worth $1.64 billion based on WPP's stock price last week.

FTC cites drop in fraudulent diet ads

Media outlets have heeded the Federal Trade Commission's efforts to kill fraudulent weight-loss ads. According to FTC Chairman Deborah Majoras, speaking at a Good Housekeeping Institute luncheon last week, the agency's intensive pressure on TV, print and radio outlets to "red flag" such ads and refuse to run them has resulted in a decrease of the ads in the media outlets it surveyed. Nearly 50% of weight-loss ads in outlets surveyed carried false or red-flag claims in January; by May, the total dropped to 15%. Ms. Majoras said the pervasive question of whether the FTC will sue the media if they do not comply with its pleas to cut out false weight-loss ads is "the wrong question," offering that "our overweight population is a societal problem that requires personal responsibility, governmental responsibility and corporate responsibility."

AutoZone taps MPG for media biz

Autozone, the Memphis, Tenn.-based seller of car parts, selected Havas' MPG to handle media buying and planning responsibilities, executives familiar with the situation said. MPG won the business following a review; in the final round, MPG competed against Publicis Groupe's MediaVest. MediaVest withdrew from the pitch because it couldn't reach an agreement on pricing, according to an executive close to the situation. MPG referred calls to the client. AutoZone, which did not return calls, had previously handled its buying and planning buying in-house. The company spent $53.8 million in measured media for the first 10 months of 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence, equating to annual spending of $65 million. QwikFIND aaq29s

TiVo president steps down

The president of TiVo resigned last week in a surprise move that came just a few weeks after Michael Ramsey, CEO and co-founder of the digital-video-recorder company, said he would step down. President Marty Yudkovitz, who started in May 2003, said he stepped down for family reasons. In a statement from the company, Mr. Yudkovitz said he will continue to work with TiVo in a consulting capacity. Mr. Ramsey said previously that he will continue as CEO until a successor is found and then move to a chairman-only role. The resignations come at a difficult time for TiVo as it faces ever-increasing competition from cable and satellite companies offering similar digital recorder.

OgilvyInteractive rolls Digital Group

OgilvyInteractive has formed a Digital Innovation Group to manage technological advertising, such as broadband, wireless, interactive TV, branded entertainment, digital out-of-home advertising and gaming. Maria Mandel, formerly director of interactive services at Draft, has been hired as director of the group. Dan Goodman will oversee the digital-innovation group as executive director, OgilvyInteractive New York. Mr. Goodman takes the place of Eric Wheeler, who has been named executive director, OgilvyInteractive North America. The unit will consult with all Ogilvy agencies, Ms. Mandel said. OgilvyInteractive, which has 1,100 employees worldwide, is part of direct-marketing group OgilvyOne. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of OgilvyOne Worldwide, a unit of WPP's Ogilvy Group. QwikFIND aaq29y

TNS: Ad spending to grow 5.1% in '05

Advertising spending will grow 5.1% this year to $150.5 billion, with the Internet, Spanish-language TV and cable TV showing the biggest gains, according to a forecast from TNS Media Intelligence. The second half of the year will show slower growth than the first half, 3.5% compared with 6.9%, unlike last year, when ad spending related to political campaigns and the Summer Olympic Games in Athens helped the second half keep pace. QwikFIND aaq29t


Steve Stone, founder and executive creative director of Black Rocket, has opened independent shop Heat, San Francisco. Its first work includes a branding campaign breaking this week for Conde Nast Publications. ... President Bush's State of the Union address last week snared 38.4 million viewers, which translated into a 25.2 rating and 40 share on broadcast networks ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, and cable's CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, according to Nielsen Media Research's preliminary audience estimates. An additional 1 million viewers tuned into Telemundo and Telefutura, for a 6 rating and 9 share.

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