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In an effort to reignite its Stouffer's "Red Box" frozen-food business, Nestle last week tapped J. Walter Thompson, Chicago, to handle its $46 million account, following a shootout with global roster shops, executives familiar with the move said. The choice was down to two finalists, JWT, part of WPP Group, and Fallon Worldwide, part of Publicis Groupe, executives said. Fallon referred calls to Stouffer, which couldn't be reached for comment. JWT Chicago declined to comment. Havas' Euro RSCG, New York, was the incumbent agency. The Solon, Ohio-based marketer wants to reposition the brand with a heavy emphasis on merchandising and point-of-sale tactics highlighting low-carb benefits in some cases, according to an executive close to the marketer. Earlier this month, Nestle launched a line of grilled-chicken entrees under the Red Box brand as part of the effort to offer healthier variety. AdAge.com QwikFIND aap74w

BMW and Apple join for iPod offer

BMW of North America will offer an iPod adapter co-developed with Apple Computer on July 12 for select 2004 models and in late summer on all its Mini Cooper cars. BMW's multimedia ad blitz for the adapter, which includes the Web site ipodyourbmw.com, started last week and continues into August with the theme "Control freaks, rejoice." Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis, handles. The iPod adapter offers yet another in-vehicle music option. BMW started offering Sirius Satellite Radio systems, which costs $12.95 monthly, as a dealer-installed option in its 2004 models. BMW's iPod adapter will cost $149 plus installation. Jim McDowell, BMW's VP-marketing, predicted some owners will want both Sirius and the iPod adapter. Stan Ng, director-product marketing, Apple, said last year's iPod deal with Volkswagen of America differed because it was merely a summer promotion offering Beetle hard-top buyers an iPod adapter. BMW doesn't have exclusivity for vehicle-integrated iPod adapters, he added. AdAge.com QwikFIND aap74o

AOL pays $435M for ad network firm

America Online has agreed to acquire advertising network Advertising.com for $435 million in an all-cash transaction. The deal is expected to close this summer. Jonathan Miller, CEO, AOL, said in a conference call last week that combining its network with Advertis-ing.com's will enable AOL to expand its advertising base, reaching more than 140 million Internet users, and tapping into Advertising.com's pay-per-performance advertising. In the last two years, AOL has "rebuilt" its advertising business, consolidating sales, sales development, client service, inventory management, search and commerce into one unit under Mike Kelly, president of AOL Media Network, Mr. Miller said.

Schonfeld ad study released

Ad spending will show robust growth in 2005, thanks to the improved economy and new ad channels, according to the 28th annual study, Advertising Ratios & Budgets, produced by Schonfeld & Associates. The report compiles budget information from several sources, including annual reports. The auto industry is expected to be the top spender, with $27.8 billion, up 6.1%, followed by large food companies, which are expected to spend $26.6 billion in 2005, up 8.3% over this year. Pharmaceutical companies will increase spending 7%, closing in on the $20 billion mark. In 2005, the top global ad spender will again be food giant Nestle, whose estimated budget of $15.1 billion will rise 12.7% over 2003, according to Schonfeld's tally. See the Ad Ratios by industry and full report at AdAge.com QwikFIND aap72y

FYI...

The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus on June 24 said it asked PepsiCo's Tropicana to alter a Tropicana Light `n Healthy ad that started "Counting carbs?" because the ad doesn't clearly disclose the product's 17 grams of carbohydrates per serving, and would be unlikely to qualify as a low-carb beverage. NAD said Tropicana had substantiated its claim that its product has a third less calories and half the sugar of orange juice. ... Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, proposed legislation that would let the Federal Trade Commission restrict advertising of foods and beverages to children under 18 if it determines that the ads are "unfair" or "deceptive" or if the product "is detrimental to the health of children." The "Help America Act" would also allow the secretary of agriculture to ban the sale and marketing of foods in schools, eliminate the deductibility of tobacco advertising and give the Food and Drug Administration authority over tobacco marketing, while implementing sweeping ad curbs proposed by the FDA in 1996.

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