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[White Plains, N.Y.] In an unusual move for an A-list actor, Brad Pitt will appear in a David Fincher-directed ad for Heineken that will run in the U.S, according to people familiar with the matter. Heineken USA is contemplating running the ad on spot TV during the Super Bowl broadcast. Representatives for Heineken USA and Mr. Pitt declined to comment.

Chrysler: no rate hikes; Mitsubishi out of mags

[Auburn Hills, Mich.] Chrysler Group, which just approved its 2005 ad budget Dec. 2, has asked publishers for no rate hikes for the sixth straight year, executives close to the matter said. The automaker still hasn't finalized all print buys for early in 2005, the executives said. A spokeswoman said Chrysler has early-year ads in some titles, but would not comment on the hike requests. Separately, troubled Mitsubishi Motors North America canceled nearly all print ads in February and March and moved the dollars to local buys.

Endeavor's Dowley headed for Interpublic

[New York] Amid intense speculation that Hollywood talent agency Endeavor is looking for outside investors for its marketing solutions unit, Mark Dowley, head of the New York office, is set to exit. A spokesman for Endeavor denied that the company was looking for a sale, adding that Mr. Dowley was still employed by the company. Mr. Dowley, who heads the marketing solutions unit, did not return numerous calls for comment, though executives close to talks say he is negotiating a return to Interpublic Group of Cos. within the next two weeks. A spokesman for Interpublic had no comment. Two executives said Mr. Dowley had talked about joining sports marketing unit Octagon, though another suggested that Mr. Dowley was discussing a more senior role that might eventually see him succeed John Dooner, chairman-CEO of McCann Erickson Worldwide.

P&G set to cut Q2 TV spending

[Cincinnati] Procter & Gamble Co. will follow recent cuts in first quarter 2005 TV spending with equally deep cuts in the second quarter, according to an executive familiar with the company's plans. The reason isn't a strategic shift away from TV, but rising oil and other raw-material prices that have hurt P&G's margins, the executive said. P&G is exercising its option to reduce first-quarter upfront commitments, a spokeswoman confirmed, but would not comment on the second-which is the final period in P&G's fiscal 2005. "TV remains an integral part of our marketing strategy," she said. "In fact, our fiscal year TV spending through [the first quarter] is up vs. a year ago."

McD's critic unveils franchisee complaints

[Oak Brook, Ill.] Former McDonald's Corp. operator-turned-gadfly Dick Adams today will release franchisee comments omitted from Dec. 6 results of a survey he conducted for Citigroup Smith Barney. Several of the wide-ranging comments were critical of Jim Skinner and Mike Roberts, recently installed as chairman and CEO. Other complaints included margin-eating costs for cashless payments, Oven Selects toasted sub equipment and 24-hour operations. The investment bank has been working with Mr. Adams for two years on the condition that the full comments would be printed, claimed Mr. Adams. Smith Barney restaurant analyst Mark Kalinowski was on his honeymoon and unavailable for comment. "Our business results speak for themselves," said a McDonald's spokeswoman. "Our increase in customers per day is roughly 1.8 million. We've had record sales, record results. The `Plan to Win' is working."

WPP champion Scheele set to retire from Ford

[Dearborn, Mich.] Ford Motor Co.'s expected announcement last week that Nicholas Scheele, 60, will retire as president Feb. 1 has stirred industry experts' predictions of a change in WPP Group's standing as a preferred Ford global supplier. Mr. Scheele championed the WPP status and is close to WPP Chairman Martin Sorrell. There are already glitches in the relationship, as evidenced by Ford-owned Jaguar saying it will include non-WPP shops for its global creative and marketing services review. James O'Connor, group VP-sales, service and marketing at Ford North America, who was at meetings on the matter, said the automaker had never promised account exclusivity to WPP.

MTV to centralize ad sales under Divney

[New York] MTV Networks is expected to centralize its ad sales operations under former Comedy Central boss Larry Divney. Mr. Divney, who returned from a brief retirement to become chief operating officer of ad sales for MTV Networks in October, is expected to be promoted to president of ad sales, Television Week reports today. The ad sales heads of both the MTV music networks and the Nickelodeon networks will report directly to Mr. Divney. Under the new arrangement, Sue Danaher, exec VP-general sales manager for Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite and TV Land, is expected to retain her duties. But executives said that Hank Close, exec VP-ad sales at Comedy Central under Mr. Divney, will assume responsibility for the music networks. Exec VP-general sales manager Doug Rohrer, who had those responsibilities, is expected to take another post at MTV Networks. Mr. Divney did not return a phone call by press time. An MTV spokesperson declined to comment. Read related story: QwikFIND aaq17m

FYI ...

Kirk Souder resigned as president-executive creative director of Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney to study psychology and will be succeeded at the $750 million shop by group creative directors Jon Soto, 43, and Jae Goodman, 34, now co-executive creative directors. ... Stephen Novick, vice chairman and chief creative officer of Grey Global Group, is retiring from the company effective Jan. 1, according to a Dec. 10 filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, and will become a consultant to the company for two years.

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