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[Dallas] Samsung Electronics has begun to contact agencies concerning global branding creative, executives familiar with the situation said. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding is agency for the $400 million account. Korean shop Cheil Communications is agency for cellphones and other consumer electronics properties in the U.S. Samsung executives did not return calls seeking comment by deadline.

Lincoln breaks exclusive image effort in `NY Times'

[Dearborn, Mich.] Lincoln breaks a new image-building campaign today only in The New York Times in an effort that will run through year's end. The Ford Motor Co. brand said its consumer research showed it wasn't doing enough branding and it needs to prepare for new models in 2005. WPP Group's Y&R here created a slew of ads focusing on features such as heated seats. The buy adds 160 insertions to Lincoln's existing deal with the newspaper. The enhanced deal includes exclusive-advertiser status of the Times' Sunday magazine's `Portfolio' section. Those color ads start March 28. Y&R also created banner ads for nytimes.com. "We need to do it," said Tom Grill, marketing communications manager of Lincoln. The brand spent $204 million in measured media in the first 11 months of 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Miller to lay out AOL's path in April

[New York] America Online CEO Jonathan Miller is to present his plans for AOL's future to Time Warner management in April. The New York Post reported last week that Time Warner has hired investment bank Goldman Sachs to help it explore options for the AOL unit, which is losing dial-up subscribers at a rapid rate. Time Warner's main options, according to the article, are to sell, spin off or restructure its AOL unit. Microsoft declined to comment on reports that it might be a candidate to acquire AOL. The Time Warner unit lost 2.2 million subscribers in 2003.

Nokia consolidates U.S. accounts with Grey

[Irving, Texas] Cellphone marketing giant Nokia is consolidating its advertising and media account at Grey Global Group, according to executives close to the situation. The technology unit, DarkGrey, picked up U.S. advertising after a review, while MediaCom, New York, snagged media. Grey handles Nokia's N-Gage video game in Europe, and MediaCom handles European media. Advertising finalists were Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago and Dallas, and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas. Dallas independent Richards Group had handled Nokia since 1997. It did not participate in the review and declined to comment. The other agencies either declined to comment or could not be reached. Nokia did not return calls concerning the media review and offered no comment on the creative review. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aap47v

Virginia house approves 4.5% ad tax in initial vote

[Richmond, Va.] The Virginia House of Delegates approved a 4.5% ad tax in an initial vote last week that had ad and media groups rushing to halt the measure in the Virginia Senate. Virginia is home to USA Today, American Online and the Bush campaign's media buying, all of which could be subject to the new tax. The ad tax is part of a budget proposal that would drop a number of exemptions from state sales taxes and is part of a House plan to solve a budget stalemate that has already forced one special session of the legislature. National ad groups and state media groups warned last week that the Virginia would lose far more than it would gain from the tax. Citing a study and an earlier experience of Florida they said advertisers would buy media elsewhere or use out of state agencies, rather than pay the tax.

Osborn taps insiders to fill vacancies at BBDO

[New York] Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, has tapped two insiders to fill high-profile vacancies, the first appointments under new President-CEO John Osborn. Nancy Hill will handle new business in addition to leading BBDO's PeopleSoft and America Online business. She assumes the duties of Lynne Seid, who resigned in February to become president of Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding, New York. Anne Devereux will direct integrated marketing in addition to spearheading the agency's direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising. She assumes the duties from Mr. Osborn.

Cannes announces U.S. judges for `04

[London] The U.S. judges for the film jury at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in June will be Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO-chief creative officer of Publicis Groupe's Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, and Gary Goldsmith, chairman and chief creative officer of Interpublic's Lowe New York.

FYI ...

Unilever has shifted the $15 million to $20 million creative account for its All value home care brand to Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, from Interpublic's Lowe, New York, a spokeswoman said. The move follows the same shift of agencies for the Surf brand in the U.K. late last year. ... Steve Wilhite, who joined Nissan North America as VP-marketing in 2001, will move to Japan as VP-global marketing at the automaker's parent company, execs close to Nissan said. The move is part of broader executive shifts at Nissan Motor Co. expected to be announced in Japan this week. A spokesman declined to comment. ... Dreyers Grand Ice Cream has placed media buying for its super-premium Haagen-Dazs at Omnicom Group's PHD Network. PHD already handled media buying for the Dreyer's brand. ... SABMiller is giving WPP's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, a global creative assignment for its Pilsner Urquell brand. ... McDonald's Corp. is consolidating its estimated $90 million account in Japan with Dentsu and Publicis' Beacon Communications. The account was previously divided among Dentsu and two other big Japanese agencies, Hakuhodo and Asatsu-DK, in which WPP owns a minority stake. ... EchoStar Communications' DISH Network has begun a review for a branding agency, a company spokesman said. EchoStar spent $87.7 million for the first 11 months of 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. However, the spokesman said the majority of the account remains in-house and media will remain at Campbell Mithun's Cash Plus Media Services, part of Interpublic. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aap47u ... Mercedes spots from Omnicom's Merkley & Partners, New York, show owners with their cars. "You don't see people taking pictures of themselves with their toaster ovens," the narrator says, according to dealers who previewed it. Two spots use the same format, still photos of Mercedes' owners with their cars. One spot reflects its target of younger, more diverse buyers; the other, Mercedes' more traditional owner.

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