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[San Diego] Sony Electronics USA today opens its fight to take back the spotlight from Apple's iPod with a strategy of positioning its Walkman line as more advanced technologically and offering a wider breadth of product. An estimated $30 million to $40 million TV, print, radio and promotion blitz starts with a spot featuring Macy Gray singing her version of the Aerosmith song "Walk This Way," the campaign's tag line. Mark Viken, senior VP-corporate marketing, called the effort "the most aggressive campaign in our history." WPP Group's Y&R, Irvine, Calif. handles.

New Banana Republic effort not from Goodby

[San Francisco] The Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic will go to market this fall with a new ad campaign from its in-house agency, and not the work of newly appointed agency of record, Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, a spokeswoman for the marketer said. The spokeswoman said Goodby's work may run next year. "What we've seen from Goodby was very exciting and we want to know what our customers think about it," she said.

Financier presses Havas to scrap idea of Grey bid

[Paris] Financier Vincent Bollore raised his stake in Havas to 8% from 5.1% and will press the agency to scrap a potential bid for Grey Global Group, according to a knowledgeable individual. A Havas spokeswoman said, "This is based on rumors, not fact," but declined to comment further. Mr. Bollore's spokeswoman wasn't available at press time. Separately, Blackstone Group is unlikely to proceed on a Grey bid; the private-equity firm decided Grey wasn't worth more than $800 a share, said an individual familiar with discussions. Grey Chairman-CEO Ed Meyer was said to have indicated to Blackstone that Grey wanted at least $950, but another individual said Mr. Meyer communicated no price. Blackstone and Grey declined to comment. WPP Group and private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman remain probable bidders; Hellman & Friedman is being advised by former Young & Rubicam Chairman-CEO Michael Dolan and has talked with Kolhberg Kravis Roberts & Co. about a joint bid. Grey banker Goldman Sachs hopes to wrap a deal by shortly after Labor Day. Grey, which began talking with potential buyers about three months ago, closed Aug. 13 at $875.

General Mills recalls Crispy Glazed popcorn

[Minneapolis] Just weeks after the launch of a TV and print effort touting a line of Crispy Glazed Pop Secret popcorn, General Mills has recalled the nearly 281,000 cases of the microwave product, citing consumer complaints of burns from the hot glaze. General Mills spent $10 million in measured media on Pop Secret last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, and the innovation with Crispy Glazed caramel and kettle corn varieties were expected to be the focus of this year's efforts. A spokeswoman said the company plans to discontinue the varieties.

Cadillac launches sedan with multi-media blitz

[Detroit] Cadillac said it will launch its all-new STS performance sedan, replacing the Seville, with a multi-media blitz. TV ads arrive on NBC during the Ryder Cup golf tournament Sept. 16. The spots will name German competitors. To pre-launch the car, the General Motors Corp. brand last week broke the first of five national :15s on broadcast TV that attempt to smash public stereotypes of American luxury cars. Publicis Groupe's Chemistri, Troy, Mich., handles. Cadillac spent $70 million in the first four months of 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Advertising Week plays its icon trading cards

[New York] The American Association of Advertising Agencies is playing its next hand in the promotion of Advertising Week by launching an online trading-card game featuring famous brand icons such as the Pillsbury Doughboy and Mr. Clean. The cards are digital files that will appear on advertisingweek.yahoo.com. They were created by Miami-based Digital Allegiance. According to a spokesman at the 4A's, when users visit the site they accumulate credits that allow them to "buy" a pack of cards. There are 53 cards in a deck-26 icons and 26 slogan cards, which can be used to play trivia and card-trading games. Gambling is not allowed. "That is an absolute no-no for the images of these brands," said Oswaldo Lafee, president of Digital Allegiance. The Web site also is where people can vote for their favorite icons to induct into the Madison Ave. Advertising Hall of Fame.

Disney to continue ABC News Now service

[New York] Walt Disney Co. is indicating that it will continue to operate its new cable news channel ABC News Now beyond the end of the Republican Convention in August. Bob Iger, Disney's president-chief operating officer, said in a third quarter results presentation held last week that "It is likely we'll keep the thing up." The service, which is streamed on the Web and will become a digitally transmitted cable service, was launched in under 500,000 households during the Democratic Convention last month. Separately, Mr. Iger said the ABC network was likely to achieve more than a 3% increase on upfront prices in the scatter market and added that there was evidence a significant number of advertisers had held money out to make opportunistic buys.

FYI...

The online auction site eBay said that it is acquiring a 25% interest in Craigslist, a site that features free classifieds for apartments, jobs and social connections, as well as discussion forums. Financial terms were not disclosed. ... MDC Partners is trying to lure Steven Berns, Interpublic Group of Cos.' senior VP-treasurer, to be a vice chairman of the smaller marketing-services holding company, according to a knowledgeable executive. Mr. Berns, 38, at press time hadn't returned a call. MDC declined to comment. ... Interpublic's marketing services agency Draft, Chicago, won the promotional account for Procter & Gamble Co.'s Folgers coffee brand, said an executive familiar with the situation. A P&G representative didn't return calls. ... Interactive agency Digitas said it is laying off 50 employees because it expects a decline in revenues from AT&T and Delta Air Lines. ... Masterfoods U.S.A. bows a new theme line for its Snickers candy bar, "Make it happen with Snickers," diverging from the "Hungry, why wait?" line its agency Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, created for the brand in 1996. ... The Federal Emergency Management Agency launches a new spot for its flood insurance program this week, featuring a family blithely ignoring bubbling up water until they are underwater, from WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Atlanta. FEMA spends between $14 million and $17 million a year on advertising.

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