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[San Antonio] AT&T rang in its new image with a New Year's Eve Times Square and TV ad blitz to be followed by an estimated $500 million-plus multimedia marketing campaign through early 2006. The formation of the new Ma Bell, resulting from the $16 billion purchase of AT&T by SBC, has major implications for the industry as regional players begin to expand offerings, melding telecom and entertainment services to compete against rival telecoms and cable operators. A number of analysts, for example, expect AT&T to launch a wireless phone service that will go up against Cingular Wireless, 60% owned by SBC and 40% owned by BellSouth. One expects a dissolution of Cingular Wireless as soon as 2007. QwikFIND aar26m

WPP picks up more P&G biz with Bridge

[Cincinnati] WPP Group is gaining more heft with client Procter & Gamble Co. following Wunderman's acquisition of Bridge Worldwide, Cincinnati, for an undisclosed figure Dec. 28. Bridge, with 120 employees and estimated revenue of $12 million, has doubled sales in the past four years and is on track to triple them within five, said President-CEO Jay Woffington, who will maintain his title as Bridge retains its name under Wunderman. Bridge handles around 30 P&G brands, including P&G Brandsaver, and the multi-brand Health Expressions relationship-marketing program. QwikFIND aar26k

Dunkin' Donuts pitchman dead at 83

[New York] Michael Vale, a prolific commercial actor who starred as Dunkin' Donuts' beloved pitchman "Fred the Baker," died in New York on Dec. 24 at the age of 83. The cause of death was complications from diabetes, his family said. The Brooklyn-born actor appeared in more than 1,300 TV commercials as well as in Broadway shows, movies and TV shows. His gig for Dunkin' Donuts began in 1982 in a campaign created by now-defunct New York independent Ally & Gargano, and ended in 1997, when Dunkin' Donuts decided to retire the character. QwikFIND aar26l

Discount retailers see spending surge

[Columbus, Ohio] Forecasters are predicting discount retailers to end up the biggest winners this holiday season. A late 2.8% surge in holiday spending at retail chain stores helped comparable-store sales hold steady at 3.9 % for the week ended Dec. 24, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, which also reported gift-card sales jumped 6.6% to $18.5 billion. Consumers spent $30.1 billion online this season, a 30% jump from 2004. A slew of retailers, including Target, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney, release December sales results Jan. 5. The Commerce Department releases industry-wide numbers Jan. 13. QwikFIND aar26n

Intel drops `Inside' tag, plans print campaign

[Santa Clara, Calif] Intel is shelving its 15-year-old "Intel Inside" slogan in favor of a new tagline "Intel. Leap ahead." The company will, however, continue its marketing program that offers advertising dollars for manufacturing partners that mention Intel in ads. Also getting an overhaul is its 37-year-old logo, getting rid of the dropped E. A print advertising campaign, created by Interpublic Group's McCann Worldgroup, begins Jan. 3 to herald the changes made under the direction of marketing chief Eric Kim. Mr. Kim's vision includes organizing Intel into a brand platform system with marketing plans for categories or platforms of business and each one's individual product brands, including Centrino wireless technology, Viiv digital-living-room chip sets and the upcoming Core low-power chips.


Australian media baron Kerry Packer, 68, died Dec. 26, leaving a $7 billion estate that included an Australian magazine and TV empire, but also casinos and chemical companies. ... WPP Group has named Tro Piliguian to the newly created role of chief operating officer at the holding company from North American chairman of its Ogilvy & Mather network. ... Berlin Cameron United, New York, has won launch of Heineken USA's Heineken Premium Light. The marketer did not comment on spending, but some reports put the brand's outlay at $40 million. ... Kao Brands has named Sara Lee Foods and Procter & Gamble Co. veteran Tara L. Khoury VP-general manager, North America. Ms. Khoury was most recently senior VP-Hillshire Farm for Sara Lee. ... Unilever is keeping its estimated $350 million media planning and buying business for Latin America at Initiative following a six-month pitch that pitted the incumbent against MindShare. ... Nielsen Media Research began reporting time-shifted TV ratings the last week of December. As expected, the addition of the DVR ratings had little impact on the ratings since DVR households compose less than 1% of Nielsen's total sample.

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