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"We got rid of Joe Camel. We've got to get rid of Shrek," Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, declared last week as he urged food and fast-food marketers to rein in advertising of so-called junk food to kids. Mr. Harkin also sent letters to 38 food and fast-food companies. The Children's Advertising Review Unit, held up by food marketers as evidence of self-regulation, was criticized by Mr. Harkin for not doing enough. Brandishing "The Oreo Counting Book: 10 to 1 Is So Much Fun," Mr. Harkin said some marketing to kids is "obscene." Shrek, a character from two animated movies from DreamWorks, was used in a variety of promotions and tie-ins, notably with General Mills for a number of brands. Joe Camel was the tobacco-industry cartoon character from R.J. Reynolds that proved to be that industry's marketing undoing. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq41b

`New Yorker,' `Vanity Fair' top Ellie nominations

The American Society of Magazine Editors named the finalists for this year's National Magazine Awards, known as the Ellies, for the Ian Calder-designed copper elephant that winners receive. The most nominated title is, once again, Conde Nast Publications' The New Yorker, which received 10 nominations, including one for General Excellence. Others with multiple nominations include Conde Nast title Vanity Fair (seven) and The Atlantic Monthly (five). Five magazines received three nominations apiece: Fairchild Publications' Details; Hearst Magazines' Esquire; Time Inc.'s Fortune; Conde Nast's Gourmet; New York Magazine; and Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq41m

Interpublic media execs exit; reorganization begins

Creating a pathway for the much-anticipated reorganization of its media buying-and-planning networks, Interpublic Group of Cos. last week announced major personnel changes at Universal McCann and Initiative. Robin Kent was moved out of the CEO job at Universal McCann to work on special projects. Chief Operating Officer Murray Dudgeon will handle Mr. Kent's former responsibilities until a new CEO is named. At Initiative, Marie-Jose Forissier, chairman and European CEO, is departing. Alex Gerster, Initiative's CEO, is taking on duties she performed until a replacement is found. Interpublic's CEO Michael Roth has pledged that making the media operations more competitive is a top priority. One scenario under consideration is the creation of an entity to oversee both networks. AdAge.com QwikFIND aaq401, aaq40v

Studios spent 12% less on movie marketing in `04

Hollywood spent on average $34.4 million per studio film, or 12% less to market its movies in 2004 after a staggering 28% increase the year before, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Among specialty film distributors, marketing costs fell to $11.4 million per film from $14.7 million. TV largely drove last year's big gain, but network TV spending was down 0.7%, while spot TV was down 2.4%. Newspaper spending dropped 1.1%. The overall average cost to make and market a movie was $98 million, down 5% vs. the previous year's $103 million, an industry record at the time. The industry's total box-office earnings came in at $9.54 billion, a boost of just 0.5%, while admissions fell 2.4% to 1.54 billion tickets sold.

FYI...

Raymond Simko, former head of media at Ogilvy & Mather's Office of National Drug Control Policy account, pleaded guilty last week in New York federal court to charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government, filing false claims and making false statements. Mr. Simko, 56, who retired earlier this year, will be sentenced in June. His guilty pleas follow convictions last month of former Ogilvy executives Shona Seifert and Thomas Early in a billing fraud scheme on ONDCP account. ... Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Bain Capital Partners and real-estate developer Vornado Realty will buy Toys "R" Us and its unit, Babies "R" Us, for $6.6 billion. ... Super-luxury retailer Neiman Marcus hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer for its properties.

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