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The National Football League announced Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline as its two newest sponsors. As first reported in Advertising Age, (AA, May 26), the three-year, $18 million deal is for the erectile-dysfunction drug Levitra, co-marketed by both pharmaceutical companies. Levitra, a rival to Pfizer's blockbuster Viagra, is expected to receive Food and Drug Administration approval later this year, possibly before the September start of the 2003 NFL season. Former NFL player and coach Mike Ditka is expected to appear in a series of ads for Levitra. QwikFIND aao52h

Publicis wins Celebrex project

Pfizer wrapped up a small piece of business last week before moving on to what is expected to be a major announcement this week. The pharmaceutical company awarded a creative assignment on anti-arthritis medication Celebrex to Publicis Groupe's Publicis, New York. A Pfizer spokeswoman said ideas were solicited on the account, and the company selected a commercial created by Publicis to air in the fall. The spokeswoman also said the work by Publicis is not expected to lead to a long-term assignment. Celebrex is handled by WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson. Pfizer is expected to announce agency assignments for its Zoloft, Zyrtec and Bextra accounts this week. QwikFIND aao85z

VW and Apple unite their pods

Volkswagen of America last week introduced its venture with Apple's iPod digital music player. A TV ad broke during the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Fox. The automaker is offering a free iPod to buyers of the 2003 hard-top Beetle. Roughly 250,000 current VW owners will get a $50 gift certificate for use on in exchange for test driving the car with the iPod system. The estimated $5 million blitz runs through September and includes local radio, newspaper and Web ads. Havas' Arnold Worldwide Partners, Boston, handles. QwikFIND aao85s

Drug chains halt sales of ephedra

In yet another setback for the controversial herbal ingredient ephedra, the nation's second- and third-largest drugstore chains will stop selling all ephedra-based diet products. CVS Corp., Woonsocket, R.I., will halt all ephedra-supplement sales at its 4,100 U.S. stores by Aug. 1. Eckerd Corp., based in Clearwater, Fla., has begun clearing all ephedra-based products from the shelves of its 2,690 stores. Spokesmen for the two chains were careful to say they believe ephedra is safe when used as directed. Still, both join Walgreen Corp.-the country's largest drugstore chain, which does not carry ephedra-based supplements-and General Nutrition Centers, which stopped selling products containing ephedra in May. QwikFIND aao85m

Madonna, Missy pen song for Gap

Madonna and rapper/producer Missy Elliott have co-written a song and produced a mini music video for Gap's back-to-school campaign, an executive familiar with the situation said. The song will be distributed on a CD in stores as part of a gift-with-purchase program, the executive said. Gap has long used music in its TV spots, but rarely used new compositions. Gift-with-purchase is also a marketing tool rarely used by Gap. The retailer's deal with the Material Girl also includes promotion of her children's book, "The English Rose." Gap's fall campaign is the first orchestrated by CEO Paul Pressler, a former Disney executive.

GE names first CMO in 10 years

Beth Comstock's first duties as General Electric Co.'s chief marketing officer will be to oversee a corporate commercial leadership team that will focus more marketing resources on GE's diverse markets, starting with health care, energy, automotive, aviation, retail and transportation industries. Last year, GE spent $189 million in advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Ms. Comstock, 42, was promoted July 15 from corporate VP-communication and is the first to fill the CMO position in 10 years. (See Player Profile, AA, April 14.)


Procter & Gamble Co. retained Goldman Sachs to help it explore a sale or other "strategic alternatives" for its Sunny Delight and Punica juice-drink brands. QwikFIND aao85k ... Midas awarded its estimated $40 million creative account to Omnicom Group's DDB, Chicago after a review. DDB is Midas' fifth agency since August 1997. Incumbent Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, which created some controversial TV spots, didn't defend. Aegis Group's Carat USA handles media planning and buying for Midas. QwikFIND aao85I ... Bill Keller, 54, senior editor of The New York Times Magazine, was named The Times' executive editor. The Times' former executive editor, Howell Raines, and his managing editor, Gerald Boyd, resigned June 5 after internal battles touched off by the Jayson Blair reporting scandal. QwikFIND aao84x ... The Senate Commerce Committee last week approved the nomination of Pamela Harbour as a member of the Federal Trade Commission, sending her nomination for the post now held by another Democrat, Sheila Anthony, to the Senate floor. ... Starbucks Corp. completed its acquisition of the Seattle Coffee Co. chain from AFC Enterprises for $72 million, the companies said. The deal includes the Seattle's Best Coffee and Torrefazione Italia Coffee chains, although AFC will keep the Seattle's Best Coffee retail franchise business in Hawaii and existing markets outside North America. QwikFIND aao85g

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