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[New York] The broadcast network TV upfront broke May 20, with Walt Disney Co.'s ABC concluding deals with Omnicom Group's OMD, according to an executive familiar with the conversations. OMD, which counts McDonald's Corp., Visa International and Masterfoods USA among its clients, is the biggest buyer of Super Bowl inventory and ABC will be carrying the Super Bowl in 2006. ABC had no comment and OMD executives were not immediately available.

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Allstate launches tiered insurance services

[Northbrook, Ill.] Allstate Insurance Corp. is launching a multi-million dollar teaser ad campaign to promote a new "Your Choice" auto insurance program that segments customer choices among three levels of coverage. It also offers tiers of services including accident forgiveness and safe-driving bonuses. The program marks a major shift for Allstate, whose "vanilla" offerings now are simply referred to as "auto insurance with no brand associated with it," said Chief Marketing Officer Joe Tripodi. Allstate is advertising the plan on several high-profile finales this week. "`Desperate Housewives,' `24' and `American Idol', represent very large audiences we can't get for awhile again," said Mr. Tripodi. Advertising is handled by Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Chicago.

Analysts: Ripplewood must fix Maytag marketing

[Newton, Iowa] Fixing Maytag's marketing must be a priority for Ripplewood, the buyout firm that last week agreed to purchase the appliance maker, analysts said. Weak marketing has been a "multiyear problem" for the third-largest U.S. appliance maker, said Laura Champine, an analyst for Morgan Keegan. Even when the company has rolled out superior products "they have a tough time communicating that," she said. Maytag spent $101.9 million on advertising in 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Study: Ads not a factor in kid obesity

[Washington] A new study from the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Association of National Advertisers says the number of food and restaurant ads kids see is dropping, suggesting advertising isn't a factor in increasing childhood obesity. The study was released as Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, proposed legislation giving the Federal Trade Commission authority to limit kids ads and the FTC asked marketers and critics to discuss the impact of food and fast food ads on kids at a July workshop

No immediate changes for America West, US Air

[New York] The merger between America West and US Airways will likely not affect either company's marketing plans for at least two years, executives said. The two airlines are expected to form a holding company in the interim, with each continuing to market its own brand until they can merge under the US Airways name. America West President-CEO Doug Parker will head the new company, and its offices will be based at America West's current headquarters in Tempe, Ariz.

Coty buys Unilever fragrances for $800M

[New York] Coty will buoy its Lancaster Group Worldwide prestige fragrance division with the $800 million acquisition of Unilever's perfume licenses for top designers including Calvin Klein, Chloe and Lagerfeld. Coty, whose sales totaled $2 billion last year, is purchasing the brands as part of CEO Bernd Beetz's four-year-old transformation plan. The sale is expected to help Unilever with its own ongoing transformation plan as sales for the roughly $600 million Unilever Cosmetics International division have been lackluster. Advertising for the Unilever brands is handled in-house, with WPP Group's MindShare handling buying and planning. Coty's Lancaster division uses Select Communications, New York.

Monster dumps Deutsch from creative duties

[New York] Monster Worldwide, parent of, is moving creative duties on its $40 million advertising account from Interpublic's Deutsch, New York, the marketer said last week, but did not disclose what agency will take over. Deutsch, which began working with the company in 2003, retains media buying and planning, a Monster spokeswoman said.

AKQA responsible for new Xbox user interface

[San Francisco] Interactive shop AKQA, San Francisco, which handles the Xbox global online business for Microsoft, created the user interface for the Xbox 360 console, released this month. AKQA's work on what is essentially the user's main navigational tool to enter the console is believed to be a first, signaling the further intrusion of marketing deeper into the game-production process. See QwikFIND aaq58a

Dennis consolidates online departments

[New York] Dennis Publishing, publisher of Maxim, Blender, Stuff and The Week, has consolidated its online, mobile and video departments under one central division. Todd Anderman, formerly senior VP-sales and business development for American Greetings, has been named president of the new unit. The consolidation means that advertising packages can more easily be bundled across online platforms, said Drew Kerr, spokesman for Dennis Publishing.

Indian airline readies U.S. routes, ad effort

[New York] Jet Airways, India's No.1 domestic airline, has appointed Bezos Nathanson, New York, to handle creative duties for the airline's new routes to the U.S. The agency beat 12 other shops in the review, according to a release. "We are extremely excited to be introducing such a quality international airline to the U.S. market," said Fleur McNally, who was appointed director-business development for Bezos Nathanson earlier this month.


Jeremy Fingerman, former president-U.S. soup for Campbell Soup Co., has been named president-CEO of R.A.B. Food Group, the maker of kosher brands including Manischewitz and Goodman's, as well as Guiltless Gourmet. ... James Schroer, former exec VP-global sales and marketing at Chrysler Group, joined Carlson Marketing Group, Minneapolis, as president-CEO.

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