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[New York] French investor Vincent Bollore raised his stake in Aegis Group on Sept. 30 to nearly 9%. Made through Financiere du Loch, one of Mr. Bollore's holdings, the purchase was Mr. Bollore's second last week. Earlier, he upped his share from 6.03 % to 8.04%. Mr. Bollore is now Aegis' second-largest major shareholder, behind Chicago-based Harris Associates, which at press time owned 10.45 % of Aegis. Nearly two weeks ago, Publicis Groupe confirmed it held "very preliminary conversations in respect of a possible offer," although Publicis Groupe Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy said that no offer had been made.

Losers move to sue over $1B NYC contract

[New York] The losing bidders for New York City's outdoor advertising contract are moving to file lawsuits to overturn the award given to Spanish company Cemusa, which made a $1 billion bid, reports Crain's New York Business today. Viacom Outdoor Chief Executive Wally Kelly flew to New York last week to talk with lawyers about possible grounds for a suit. Viacom believes the city is stonewalling any release of documents that would reveal Cemusa's bid price and other contract terms. Ed Wallace, a lobbyist for JC Decaux, said, "We're watching the process very closely." That's expected to happen early next year. A city DOT spokeswoman said that Cemusa is still in negotiations over the details and that revealing information would put the city at a competitive disadvantage. Suri Kasirer, Cemusa's lobbyist, said she anticipates legal challenges from some of the other bidders but believes they will fail. "The city has been very careful," she said.

Audit: `Family Circle' circulation overstated

[New York] An audit of Family Circle, the mega-magazine that Meredith bought from Gruner & Jahr USA this year, found that G&J overstated its circulation last year. G&J had claimed an average paid circulation of 4.37 million during the six months that ended in June 2004, but an Audit Bureau of Circulations report found an average paid circulation below 4.1 million. Family Circle lowered its rate base in April 2004 to 4.2 million from 4.6 million.

Merrill Lynch cuts spending growth forecast

[New York] Merrill Lynch cut its U.S. ad spending growth forecast to 3.3% (from 4.5%) for 2005 and 5.2% (from 5.5%) for 2006. It reduced its global ad forecast to 3.1% (from 3.8%) for `05 and 5.1% (from 5.6%) for `06. "With consumer confidence waning and the impact of Hurricane Katrina still taking its toll, we think there is still risk on the downside," analyst Lauren Rich Fine warned.

Free, Goodman depart McDonald's

[Oak Brook, Ill.] More executives are leaving McDonald's Corp.'s marketing team as Vicky Free, director-marketing of women's initiatives today joins Time Warner's Turner Network Television as VP-entertainment marketing in charge of marketing TNT's dramatic programming. On Sept. 30, Wal-Mart announced that Mark Goodman, McDonald's VP-U.S. strategy and operations joined Sam's Club as exec VP-marketing and membership.

FTC clears P&G's Gillette purchase

[Cincinnati] Procter & Gamble Co. received Federal Trade Commission clearance to close its $57 billion acquisition of Gillette Co. on Sept. 30 and said it would do so Oct. 1, putting Gillette's Right Guard and Rembrandt brands up for sale to satisfy anti-trust regulators. In addition, P&G said it would offer Gillette's Soft & Dri and Dry Idea deodorant brands to the buyer of Right Guard, the biggest of the brands up for sale, with global sales estimated at $150 million. Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles all the brands up for divestiture.

Coke names Tuggle to lead Russian division

[Atlanta] Coca-Cola Co. named Clyde Tuggle president of a newly created Russia, Ukraine and Belarus division, based in Moscow. He had been senior VP-director of worldwide public affairs and communications. Mr. Tuggle succeeds Grant Winterton, who moves to VP-region director, responsible for the Swire, Shenmei and Zhuhai franchise territories in China.

Islamic group protests print ad for aircraft

[Washington] The Council on American-Islamic Relations has asked Boeing Co. and Bell Helicopter/Textron Inc. to pull a print ad that depicts U.S. troops descending from a V-22 Osprey and attacking what appears to be a mosque. The ad appeared in the Sept. 24 issue of National Journal magazine and shows soldiers rappelling onto the roof of a building that has a dome, crescent moon and minaret-all common features of a mosque. Neither Boeing nor Bell Helicopter returned a phone call at press time.

Fallon resigns $12M Lee account

[Greensboro, N.C.] Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, last week resigned the $12 million Lee jeans account, citing creative and strategic differences with its 19 year client. Marketer VF Corp. is conducting an agency review with AAR Partners as consultant.

Wrigley hands BBDO Life Savers, Creme Savers

[Chicago] Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. on Sept. 30 tapped roster shop Omnicom Group's BBDO, Chicago, to handle its $8 million Life Savers and Creme Savers account, the company said. Wrigley acquired the brands, previously handled by Interpublic's Foote Cone & Belding, from Kraft Foods. BBDO beat out Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, which handles Altoids, also acquired from Kraft.


Bravo's "Project Runway" will premiere Dec. 7 with a pair of new sponsors, Tresemme and Saturn, joining returning sponsors Banana Republic and L'Oreal Paris. ... Timex named VitroRobertson, San Diego, agency for a national print campaign for fitness measurement products. Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners New York remains agency for the main Timex business.

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