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[Santa Monica, Calif.] Secret Weapon Marketing said it has resigned the estimated $50 million Ikea U.S. account after two years working with the retailer. In a statement, Dick Sittig, agency founder, said the agency for two years has "attempted to help them with their business issues. ... Since they have implemented only a tiny fraction of those recommendations, we have decided to put our energy, thinking and enthusiasm into finding a client that is a better fit." Ikea executives could not be reached for comment.

SBC to relaunch AT&T with $500 million effort

[San Antonio] SBC Communications, having received final approval from California regulators of its $16 billion acquisition of AT&T, is set to re-enter the U.S. marketplace as AT&T with a multimedia marketing effort expected to top $500 million. The new AT&T will use the letter T as its stock-market symbol. The company's new logo was designed by Omnicom Group's Intermedia, New York. GSD&M, Austin, and Rodgers/Townsend, St. Louis, are the company's agencies.

ABC, CBS in sweeps tie for 18-to-49 viewers

[New York] Halfway through November sweeps, ABC and CBS are tied for the top spot among viewers 18-to-49 with an average prime-time rating of 4.5. ABC, up 10%, is the only network to have gained significant ground over the same period last year, and NBC's ratings have continued to slide, down 20% in the sweeps period. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aar15i

Gap sees Q3 sales fall across all its brands

[San Francisco] Gap Inc. posted a 7% decline in same-store sales for the third quarter ended Oct. 29, the worst results in three years. Sales were down across all three of its lines. Gap saw a decrease of 4% and Old Navy an 8% decrease. Banana Republic, which had experienced a 3% rise for third-quarter of 2004, saw comparable-store sales slips 7% in 2005. The overall 7% decline for Gap Inc. follows 4% drops in comp-store sale during both the first and second quarters of fiscal 2005. "Our third quarter results were unacceptable," CEO Paul Pressler told analysts.

P&G picks Starcom for Gillette planning business

[Cincinnati] Procter & Gamble Co. has given Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group the communications planning assignment for Gillette Co. business, following a similar move of buying duties to SMG last month. Aegis' Carat, New York, also participated in a brief review, which includes planning duties for brands that spent about $450 million in measured media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Carat, however, was likely shut out of the biggest piece of the business-razors and blades-since it handles buying for Energizer Holdings' Schick. The new assignment also covers Duracell batteries, Oral-B oral care, Gillette series and Tag body spray, and Braun shaving and home appliances. SMG and Carat share communications planning duties for remaining P&G brands.

`BusinessWeek' drops rate base by 70,000

[New York] BusinessWeek is cutting its guaranteed paid circulation to 900,000 from 970,000 as a direct result of this year's rule changes at the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The bureau now requires some issues that are distributed in public places like doctors' offices to be categorized as "verified" instead of "paid" circulation. BusinessWeek, which is published by the McGraw-Hill Cos., has decided to stop printing public-place copies that are not paid for by third parties. "We could have kept these 70,000 copies in the ra te base and maintained the current level, but we believe discontinuing non-sponsored public-place copies is the right business strategy for us and for our customers," said William P. Kupper Jr., president, BusinessWeek Group, in a staff memo.

Group sues to overturn Utah anti-spam registry

[Salt Lake City] The Free Speech Coalition sued to overturn Utah's anti-spam "child protection registry" law calling it "overbroad," and claiming that it violates bans on state Internet regulation passed by Congress, the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution as well as the First Amendment. Marketers have complained that the registry, together with one in Michigan and another being considered in Illinois, threaten their ability to conduct national campaigns. The Association of National Advertisers is considering weighing in with a friend of the court brief.

Kraft to launch DiGiorno with whole-wheat crust

[Glenview, Ill.] Kraft Foods this January will heavily tout its first-ever whole-wheat crust DiGiorno frozen pizza. DiGiorno Harvest Wheat Crust, in three Rising Crust and two Thin Crispy Crust varieties, will be supported via TV and print advertising from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago, as well as with public relations and in-store efforts. The line will bear Kraft's Sensible Solution flag that signifies one of the company's better-for-you options, as Harvest Wheat has 25% less fat than other frozen pizzas and eight grams of whole grain per serving. Kraft spent $19 million in measured media on DiGiorno in the first six months of this year.

Unilever moves Ragu to Ogilvy & Mather

[New York] Unilever North America moved marketing duties for its Ragu pasta sauce brand to WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, without a review. The work had been at sibling agency JWT. Ogilvy will handle creative, PR, promotion and CRM for the brand in the U.S. and Canada. Over the past two years, Ogilvy has picked up several Unilever food accounts including Hellmann's, Slim-Fast, Carb Options and Wish-Bone. Unilever spent about $13 million on measured media for Ragu last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

FYI ...

Vincent Bollore, the French investor and chairman of Havas, has increased his stake in Havas to 23.8%. ... Rich Anderman, president of Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Caif., resigned, saying he wanted to "take full advantage of the exploding number of new media opportunities." The Torrance shop is the agency for the $685 million Toyota Motor Sales USA account. A successor has not been named. ... Direct and interactive marketing agency Wunderman, part of WPP Group, named Becky Chidester as chief operating officer of its New York office, reporting to President-CEO Steve Zammarchi. Ms. Chidester has been president and CEO of RTCRM, a WPP company that reports to Wunderman. She takes on the title of chairman of RTCRM. ... Kristi VandenBosch, 42, to president Tequila/U.S., part of Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day, from president of Tequila, Los Angeles.

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