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Five shops are vying for Procter & Gamble Co.'s $4 billion U.S. communications planning account, including an unconventional contender-Omnicom Group's direct-marketing shop Targetbase, Irving, Texas. Though Targetbase is a direct-marketing shop, it also uses methodologies, in part developed by and licensed from P&G, to help analyze return on investment and recommend media plans both for direct and mass media, including TV. Other contenders include two incumbents in U.S. media planning-Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, Chicago, and Grey Global Group's MediaCom-as well as Havas' MPG, which handles P&G business in other parts of the world, and Aegis Group's Carat (all New York-based). A P&G spokeswoman expects a decision by early July. Shops pitched the account in late May, including a defense by Starcom led by Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy, according to people familiar with the review. QwikFIND aap68y

Absolut Hunk sues over HBO show ad

The Absolut Hunk is suing the Absolut Spirits Co. Actor Jason Lewis charged Absolut with using a fictitious "Sex & The City" advertisement that appeared in the HBO show to sell vodka without his permission. Mr. Lewis and Dancing Girls Productions, his manager, said "Absolut Hunk" was promoted as an actual ad contrary to the original intent. The ad had Mr. Lewis' character, the boyfriend of Kim Cattrall's character, Samantha, naked on a bed, with an Absolut bottle strategically placed between his legs. The suit said Mr. Lewis has avoided assignments relating to alcohol, tobacco and guns. Omnicom Group's Ketchum, Los Angeles, is named in the suit along with Absolut parent V&S Group. Absolut declined to comment other than to say it had not been served with the suit, which was filed May 27 in the California Superior Court. Damages were not specified, and no trial date has been set. QwikFIND aap69L

Nielsen, amid protest, rolls meters

Nielsen Media Research launched its electronic people meters in the New York market last week, amid a chorus of concern over its readiness to collect accurate viewing data. On June 2, CBS issued a statement detailing its desire to see Nielsen relax its national roll-out schedule until the new people meters at least meet the approval of the Media Ratings Council, a body established to audit measurement services. Other forces, namely Hispanic-oriented media company Univision and the Don't Count Us Out coalition, also believe the service isn't ready for market. Their concern is that minority viewership might not adequately be counted. Nielsen, a unit of VNU, in response has agreed to keep the existing paper diary system of viewing data in place for the next three months. It will run along side the new electronic data collection. QwikFIND aap69a

Oracle assigns media to Starcom

Enterprise software maker Oracle Corp. last week selected Starcom, a unit of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, to handle media buying and planning, print production and strategic planning. Chicago-headquartered Starcom bested competitors including incumbent Grey Global Group's MediaCom, San Francisco, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative, Los Angeles in a review handled by SelectResources International, Santa Monica, Calif. The assignment, which is global, requires Starcom to partner with Leo Burnett where Oracle is active, such as the U.S., Germany and China. "Leo Burnett has a robust production solution that fits our needs," said an Oracle spokeswoman. In the past, print production was handled by MediaCom sibling Grey Worldwide, San Francisco, as well as in-house. Oracle spent $30 million in measured media in 2003 in the U.S., according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. QwikFIND aap68v


President Bush's nomination for Federal Trade Commission chairman, Deborah Majoras, ran into problems last week as two senators on the Commerce Committee expressed concerns about whether she would be able to take on oil-price issues. Ms. Majoras' disclosure that she had done some oil company work while in private practice and might have to recuse herself prompted concern from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has put a hold on a vote on the nomination. ... Miller Brewing Co. will break advertising in July from WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, for its Foster's Lager brand, said Michael Browne, director of imports and craft brews at Miller, a unit of London-based SAB Miller. QwikFIND aap68s...Home Depot awarded its U.S. Hispanic creative, media buying and planning account to Vidal Partnership, New York. The retailer plans to increase Hispanic spending to $30 million in QwikFIND aap68m

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