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[Washington] Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., is readying a new attack on direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads as part of new Medicare legislation that could effectively kill broadcast ads, an aide to the senator told a pharmaceutical conference last week. David Dorsey told attendees of the Drug Information Association annual workshop on phamaceutical marketing that the legislation would not only raise fines and give the Food and Drug Adminstration enhanced authority over drug advertising, but require all advertising to carry the kind of extensive side-effect disclaimers now found only in print ads, according to a person in attendance. Asked at the conference whether "full disclosure" wouldn't kill broadcast ads, Mr. Dorsey responded that it was possible. A press aide to Sen. Kennedy last week wouldn't confirm Mr. Dorsey's comments but said the senator's Defensive Medicare Act would tighten advertising regulations, provide more complete safety and risk information and enhance FDA's enforcement.

Unilever launches Skippy Snack Bars

[Englewood Cliffs, N.J.] Unilever Bestfoods will this month launch its Skippy peanut butter brand into the snack aisle with the introduction of Skippy Snack Bars. The bars, in flavors including peanut butter and fudge and peanut butter and marshmallow, feature granola along with Skippy peanut butter. The launch coincides with a new package design for the base peanut butter brand from Smith Design. A company spokeswoman did not comment on marketing plans. Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, New York, handles.

HP Hood awards media on low-carb to Hill, Holliday

[Chelsea, Mass.] HP Hood has awarded Interpublic's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, media duties for its new Carb Countdown low-carbohydrate dairy line, according to executives close to the situation. The campaign is expected to break in June with a budget that could go as high as $20 million, though the company spent less than $1 million last year, according to TNS' Media Intelligence/CMR. Hood's creative agency is Partners & Simons, Boston. Partners & Simons referred calls to Hood, which declined to comment on its marketing plans. Hill, Holliday could not be reached at deadline.

California considers bill targeting product ID tags

[Sacramento] The California legislator who spearheaded the state's anti-spam legislation last year is taking on Radio Frequency ID tags, introducing a bill Feb. 24 that would require stores to remove or disable the electronic product tracking-tags at checkout and require marketers to get express consumer consent before using RFID-generated data. The California bill, sponsored by Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach, came two days after a bill was introduced in Utah to require that consumers be notified whenever RFID tags are being used.

Judge dismisses fraud charge in Stewart case

[New York] A federal judge dismissed on Feb. 27 the most serious of the five charges against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's former Chairman-CEO Martha Stewart just before the famed homemaker's case goes to the jury. Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum wrote in a ruling that the prosecution's case for securities fraud "was simply too weak to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal intent," according to published reports. Closing arguments from the defense and prosecution are expected on March 1, and jury deliberations are expected to begin March 3. Ms. Stewart still faces charges of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and two counts of lying to investigators.

SuperLotto pitches completed in California

[Sacramento] Presentations were completed last week in the review for the four-year, $100 million California Lottery general advertising creative and media account. Eight Lottery staff members, including the lottery's attorney and three executives from out-of-state lotteries, evaluated presentations centered on SuperLotto strategy and creative. A tentative decision in the search, initiated in 2001, is scheduled for March 10 with subsequent approval later from the Lottery Commission. Finalists in the search are Omnicom Group's BBDO West, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and DDB Worldwide, Los Angeles, along with sibling companies Alcone and OMD; seven-year incumbent Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, Los Angeles; Interpublic's Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif, and independent Ground Zero, Los Angeles.

Old Navy narrows review for $150 million account

[San Francisco] Gap Inc.'s Old Navy has selected five semi-finalists for its first creative advertising review, an account worth more than $150 million. The retailer is choosing between Havas' Euro RSCG MVBMS, New York, and Boston sibling Arnold Worldwide, WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell and J. Walter Thompson, both New York; and Interpublic's Deutsch, Los Angeles. Old Navy spent $154.5 million on measured media in the first 11 months of last year and $158 million in 2002, according to TNS' Media Intelligence/CMR. Advertising had been handled in house. Pile & Co. is handling the review. A decision is expected in April. See QwikFIND aap41x

Grey sees revenue grow 9% for the year

[New York] Grey Global Group posted strong fourth quarter and year-end results for 2003, in spite of continuing weakness in Europe. The company posted net income of $14.7 million for the fourth quarter, up 54.2% from the year-ago period and $29.1 million for the year, up 59.3%. Revenue grew 9.1% for the quarter and 9% for the year, to $365.2 million and $1.3 billion, respectively. North American revenue was up 11.9% for the quarter and 5.5% for the year, while international revenue was down 3.0% for the quarter and 0.3% for the year, after adjusting for currency exchange.


Omnicom Group is combining media buying execs from OMD Worldwide and del Rivero Messianu DDB, a leading Hispanic agency, to form a Hispanic media agency, OMD Latino. The 12-person shop will be based in New York and Miami. See QwikFIND aap41s ... ConAgra Foods will jump on the low-carb trend with the launch of a new line of frozen entrees under the Life Choice banner. ConAgra will initially forego national advertising in favor of in-store efforts and public relations, a spokesman said. Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Worldwide, Chicago, will handle future ad efforts. ... Interpublic tapped Stephen Gatfield to become exec VP-global operations and innovation. The newly created position will see Mr. Gatfield take responsibilities for developing international operating structures. Mr. Gatfield was previously chief operating officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide, part of Publicis Groupe. See QwikFIND aap41r ... Karen Jacobs, exec VP-print investment at Starcom, Chicago, is leaving the company to become a full-time mom. Ms. Jacobs joined the Publicis Groupe company in 1986. The agency said it has not yet named a successor.

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