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[Detroit] General Motors Corp.'s Saturn brand, trying to exit incentives, is offering buyers or lessees of any of its vehicles a $500 gift card from Target. Saturn Marketing Director Dave Smidebush said online is the main ad medium for the co-promotion, although the push includes national newspaper and print ads from Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco. He said Saturn approached Target Corp. and the two brands have similar customers.

Accenture set to buy Media Audits

[New York] Accenture last week announced that it's seeking to acquire Media Audits, a firm that helps marketers evaluate their ad spending, in a bid by the management consultancy to beef up its marketing sciences practice. Jeffery Merrihue, now head of the practice, has been named its CEO and Media Audits chief executive Julian Spooner will be the practice's COO. London-based Media Audits has 12 clients in the U.S., according to the company Web site. The deal is expected to close within 60 days. Terms were not disclosed.

Reebok signs Giambi for endorsement

[Canton, Mass.] Reebok has signed New York Yankees first baseman Jason Giambi to a multi-year deal to endorse the company's shoes and batting gloves. Terms were not disclosed. It is the first endorsement deal for Mr. Giambi since he was dropped last year by Nike, Pepsi and Arm & Hammer after reports surfaced that he gave grand jury testimony admitting he used steroids.

BMW review down to Kirshenbaum, GSD&M

[Woodcliff Lake, N.J.] BMW of North America has cut contenders in its $70 million national creative review to two, according to the marketer. Still in contention are MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners and Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin. The two cut from the competition are Interpublic's Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., and independent Anomaly, New York. A decision is expected this week.

Coke's Vanilla moves suggest Japan model

[Atlanta] Signaling a shift to the Japanese model of quickly cycling out products, Coca-Cola North America said it would phase out its three-year-old Vanilla Coke and Diet Vanilla Coke by year-end, replacing them with a Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke and Black Cherry Vanilla Coke in January 2006. Coca-Cola wouldn't disclose marketing plans, but executives close to the marketer said Fitzgerald & Co., Atlanta, was preparing a product-centric TV spot. The agency declined to comment.

More shareholders seek a Knight Ridder sale

[New York] Two more major shareholders in Knight Ridder said they agreed with the biggest shareholder, Private Capital Management, that the board should seek competitive offers or perhaps find itself replaced. A spokesman at Knight Ridder, the second-biggest newspaper company by circulation, said the board is "always interested" in its shareholders' views and will respond "in due course."

BK sponsors free Heavy.com content

[Miami] Burger King Corp. is sponsoring free video content for iPod downloads on Heavy.com's entire fall season called "Must Stream TV," adding to the chain's string of buzz-producing alternative media plays. It is the first time a marketer has sponsored an entire season of content for the broadband network that boasts 6 million unique monthly viewers and a viral reach of 65 million. Content mainly targets males ages 18 to 34. Terms weren't disclosed, but as part of the deal, Heavy distributed King and Subservient Chicken Halloween masks for viewers to create their own videos, which Heavy is running on the channel.

Campbell inserts brands into WB's `7th Heaven'

[Camden, N.J.] Campbell Soup Co. is integrating some of its soup brands and its long-running Labels for Education into three episodes of the WB's "7th Heaven" program this month. The tie-in, negotiated by Mediaedge:cia, will include featuring Campbell's signature Tomato and Chicken Noodle soups and the labels program into the show's storyline as well as using the series' stars in public-service announcements.

RadioShack's Arnold work ditches celebrities

[Fort Worth, Texas] RadioShack this week will break its first work from Arnold Worldwide, Boston, the Havas-owned agency it hired earlier this year as it disbanded the in-house agency best-known for spots that featured Howie Long and Teri Hatcher. Beginning Nov. 9, the holiday campaign focuses on products like iPods, Sirius Satellite Radio and wireless devices.

Spira Footwear offers $1M in publicity stunt

[New York] Spira Footwear, which has had its spring technology banned by the governing bodies of track and field, has launched a public relations campaign in which it is offering $1 million to any runner who can win the 2006 Boston Marathon in Spira brand shoes. The campaign, to also feature guerrilla marketing and possibly some advertising in running magazines, is being handled by Leverage Sports Agency, New York. The company has set up a Web site, spirabannedinboston.com

FYI...

French industrialist and Havas chairman Vincent Bollore's stake in London-based Aegis Group rose to 21.72 % on Nov. 4. Mr. Bollore started the week at 20.96%. ... Volkswagen of America is taking its Passat sedan launch to Sony Play Station Portables. Owners of the handheld devices can download videos of VW's :30 TV and :15 online spots at 29HD Network's 29guide.com.

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