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[Milwaukee] SABMiller's Miller Brewing Co. has tapped MDC Partners-backed Crispin, Porter & Bogusky, Miami, for a project for Miller Genuine Draft, according to executives familiar with the matter. Miller is trying to figure out ways to turn around the long-declining brew, the third biggest in its portfolio. A roster of four agencies-Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and Y&R, Chicago, and independent Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.-work on the brand in the U.S.

Five in bidding for `Inc.,' `Fast Company'

[New York] Five bidders are going after Gruner & Jahr USA's two remaining titles, Inc. and Fast Company: Boston-based private-equity firm Abry Partners; Advance Publications' American City Business Journals; The Economist; Boston venture-capital firm Alta Communications; and Morningstar CEO Joe Mansueto, who has a stake in Time Out Chicago. Bids, expected to be between $40 million and $50 million, a fraction of the roughly $550 million G&J paid for them in 1999, are due today at 5 p.m., according to an executive familiar with the situation.

P&G pulls Sparkle ad after CARU concerns

[Cincinnati] Procter & Gamble Co. will stop advertising its Secret Sparkle Body Spray to children under 12 following a ruling by the Children's Advertising Review Unit. CARU said the marketing program for the tween-aimed product violates safety provisions of the group's self-regulatory guidelines. Secret Sparkle, despite its demographic, carries a "Keep Out of Reach of Children" warning. In a statement P&G said it believed its promotions and advertising were in compliance with CARU rules at the time they began and that it would abide by CARU's decision in the future. A P&G spokeswoman said the company has received no reports of misuse of the product by children. See QwikFIND aaq64o

Lexus replaces Lincoln as U.S. Open sponsor

[New York] Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus brand inked a global, multi-year, multi-tiered sponsorship of the U.S. Open with the U.S. Tennis Association. Lexus will be presenting sponsor of the mens' singles bout and official vehicle of the U.S. Open, succeeding Ford's Lincoln brand. Terms weren't revealed.

SEC filing: Wal-Mart yanks Coughlin's benefits

[Bentonville, Ark.] After ousting Thomas Coughlin from his board seat in March for alleged expense-account abuses, Wal-Mart Stores, citing "gross misconduct," has also taken away the retirement benefits dating back to 1996 of its former No. 2 executive, according to filings with the SEC on June 10. Mr. Coughlin will also lose equity awards from the company's stock incentive plan and incentive payments and benefits worth millions. The filing included a copy of a letter to Mr. Coughlin's attorney and stated that he "had been engaged in a scheme to misappropriate corporate funds and property for his own personal benefit."

Sprint Nextel to stick with current agencies

[Reston, Va.] The combined Sprint Nextel brand, expected to launch this summer pending government approval, is likely to be introduced by work produced by both Nextel's agency, Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day and Sprint's agency, Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, according to Mark Schweitzer, chief marketing officer of the merged telecom. "We're not in the review process and I don't know if we ever will be," he said. Spending on the campaign was undisclosed

Clear Channel seeks new ratings system

[San Antonio] Clear Channel Radio today issued a request for proposal for a new radio ratings system based on passive and electronic measurement. Currently, Arbitron measures radio listening using a diary system; it's testing portable people meters in Houston. The RFP's initial response period is three to six months and the radio group will invite Arbitron, as well as other consumer and media research companies, to participate. Clear Channel, with 1,200 stations, will spend about $55 million with Arbitron this year.

Deutsch picks up Babies `R' Us biz

[Wayne, N.J.] Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, stung recently by several high-profile losses, won a branding assignment from Babies `R' Us. A spokeswoman for the marketer said Babies "R" Us conducted a two-month review that included several undisclosed agencies before selecting Deutsch. The chain has not disclosed the size of the account. See QwikFIND aaq64p

FYI ...

Graceann Bennett, exec VP-director of brand planning at Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, is leaving the agency, according to people familiar with the matter. A Leo Burnett spokeswoman confirmed the departure. Ms. Bennett didn't return calls. ... Brian Hooks, a partner at independent Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis, is leaving the agency, confirmed agency partner and Creative Director Dave Peterson. Mr. Hooks didn't return calls. ... Cyriac Roeding, 32, formerly chief executive of 12Snap, the first mobile phone agency to win a Cannes Lion, will be VP-wireless for CBS's new digital media division. ... Lynne Seid, president of Interpublic's Foote Cone & Belding, New York, resigned June 10, a spokeswoman for the agency said. Ms. Seid is considering offers from marketers in new media and technology. ... The federal government last week charged two top executives of bankrupt media agency Focus Media, Santa Monica, Calif., with swindling Sears Roebuck & Co. out of more than $20 million meant for TV and radio placements. The government charges that Thomas Edward Rubin, the company founder, and Thomas Patrick Sullivan, the chief financial officer, used the money to pay off creditors and settle Mr. Rubin's tax issues with the Internal Revenue Service.

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