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Higher prices driving sales growth in '06

[cincinnati] Higher prices have been the main driver of sales growth in most consumer markets so far this year, according to a July 14 report by Banc of America Securities. On average "pricing has contributed over 100% to sales growth," the report said, meaning unit and transaction volume declined broadly. Even the struggling auto industry is getting moderate price increases, net of incentives, according to the report. And deep-discount dollar stores are using higher markups to offset lower traffic. In restaurants and soft drinks, pricing accounted for 250% and 306% of revenue growth respectively-making up for substantial volume declines. Many marketers have pricing power for the first time in decades. Some, such as food marketers, are improving margins. But the firm finds declining unit volume troublesome.

American Media steps closer to reality show

[new york] American Media neared the green light for "One Park Avenue," the reality show about staffers at magazines such as Star and Men's Fitness, and was in discussions to air the pilot on Lifetime. An in-office casting call is planned for July 18 and 19, when producer Star Price, who is developing the show, will choose perhaps five to eight staffers to be main characters. Shooting was originally planned for months ago, but was put off when negotiations between the company and the producer were bogged down.

McD's goes after youth in clubs, bars

[oak brook, ill.] McDonald's Corp. is venturing into the play lands of young adults: bars, sports events and concerts. According to Crain's Chicago Business, McDonald's has outfitted several Chicago bars with coasters sporting a toll-free number patrons can dial to program a wake-up call. A prerecorded message from a rotating group of celebrities, including Mr. T, rap star Twista and Chicago Cubs player Juan Pierre, urges the recipient to get up and go to McDonald's for breakfast. Additionally, a mobile McDonald's box office shows up in parking lots around Chicago ahead of popular concerts to sell good seats before they're available to the general public.

ConAgra to decide fate of four brands

[omaha, neb.] ConAgra Foods is expected to make decisions this week on agency realignments for four brands worth more than $40 million in total billings. Following the shift in agencies for its $19 million Healthy Choice account in April from Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett, Chicago, to Nitro, New York, ConAgra is still reviewing agencies for its Reddi-Whip, Pam and Chef Boyardee brands-each of which spent roughly $12 million in media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR-and Egg Beaters, which spent $5 million in media last year. The brands are currently handled by Burnett, which is part of the review, along with Omnicom Group's DDB, San Francisco, OneSeven, New York, and Nitro.

Omnicom snags stake in LatinWorks

[austin, texas] Omnicom Group's Diversified Agency Services Unit has acquired a minority equity stake in Austin-based LatinWorks. The move brings a Hispanic shop with $52 million in 2005 billings and a client roster that includes Anheuser-Busch, U.S. Cellular and ESPN Deportes into the Omnicom fold. LatinWorks founders Manny Flores and Alejandro Ruelas said they will remain at the helm of the agency. "It's not about cashing out; it's about adding rocket fuel," said Mr. Ruelas. "[Omnicom's] scale can help us become a Hispanic agency on steroids."

Council runs political spots for bag of leaves

[new york] The Advertising Council launched a series of ads touting inanimate items including "old relish packet" and "bag of leaves" as prospective candidates in this fall's elections. "If you are not voting, then who are you electing?" is the theme of the public-service ads from WestWayne, Atlanta, done for the Federal Voting Assistance Program. The messages are aimed at getting more youths out to vote in this fall's off-year elections. Read more at AdAge.com.

Helio ad: 'Don't call us a phone company'

[los angeles] Helio, a mobile network backed by South Korea's SK Telecom and EarthLink, tries to move consumers away from the perception of the mobile phone as primarily a phone device with a new campaign tagged "Don't call us a phone company. Don't call it a phone." Helio launched in the U.S. in May with a campaign targeted to South Koreans living in the U.S. Ten Communications, Los Angeles, handles the Korean advertising, while Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles, handles the general-market campaign, which includes national cable, print, online, radio and out of home. Spending was undisclosed.

Gonzalez takes over as Bravo Group chair-CEO

[new york] Gary Bassell is out as chairman-CEO of the Bravo Group, a Hispanic marketing agency and part of WPP Group's Young & Rubicam Brands, after less than two years. He joined Bravo in January 2005. Taking over as chairman-CEO is Eddie Gonzalez, who adds the Bravo duties to his current job as CEO of Y&R Latin America.

Cuban looks to secure 'Arrested' for HDNet

[los angeles] Mark Cuban's surprise deal to make his niche network HDNet Dan Rather's new home wasn't the only big television coup the billionaire had up his sleeve last week, reports Television Week. Mr. Cuban, chairman and president of HDNet, is close to acquiring all three seasons of the critically acclaimed Fox comedy "Arrested Development" from Twentieth Television, sources said. The series, which was shot in high definition, will join a roster of recently canceled prime-time series on HDNet's schedule.

FYI ...

Circuit City tapped Interpublic's DeutschMedia, New York, for media planning duties. The Richmond, Va.-based company spent $162 million in measured media in 2005, according to TNS.
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