Circuit City, FCB split amidst creative review
[Richmond, Va.] Circuit City Stores has split with its creative agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago, and is forging ahead with an ongoing review. FCB was invited to pitch for the review when it was announced in late February. "While our search for an advertising agency is still under way, Circuit City and FCB have decided to part ways," a Circuit City spokesman said. The retailer, which is grappling with weak sales, spent $345 million in media during the fiscal year ended Feb. 29.
Hershey to sign Simpson sisters for Ice Breakers
[Hershey, Pa.] Hershey Foods is expected to sign pop star Jessica Simpson and her sister, "7th Heaven" actress and singer Ashlee Simpson, on behalf of its Ice Breakers gum and mint line. A Hershey spokeswoman declined to comment on the deal. North Castle Partners, Stamford, Conn., handles advertising for Ice Breakers.
MDC looks for London acquisition
[Toronto] MDC Partners chief strategist Chuck Porter is headed to London to look for potential acquisition targets. Miami-based Mr. Porter said he is talking to a number of agencies including Michaelides & Bednash, a communications strategy boutique which counts Unilever, Time Out, Elle, and J&B Scotch as clients. Last week MDC Partners acquired a minority stake in Minneapolis start-up, Mono, formed by two former Fallon group creative directors, Michael Hart and Chris Lange. The acquisition comes just a few days after MDC also agreed to acquire a 65% stake in 41-person shop, Henderson Bas, Toronto.
Ditech.com taps Castells for first Hispanic effort
[Costa Mesa, Calif.] Online mortgage lender Ditech.com has hired independent U.S. Hispanic agency Castells & Asociados Advertising, Los Angeles, for its first major Hispanic effort, including a TV, direct marketing and direct response campaign that will break this week in California and roll out nationally later this year.
Coca-Cola set to unveil new Diet Coke branding
[Atlanta] Despite some production snafus, Coca Cola Co. is expected to unveil new packaging and branding for Diet Coke. The positioning plays off of an effervescence proposition. Shot by director Michelle Gaundry of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" fame for Interpublic's Foote Cone & Belding, New York, the effort shows people interacting with bubbles rising off cans and bottles. Production had been delayed after Steve Heyer, president-chief operating officer of the soft drink giant, was said to be unhappy with the rough cuts. A Coca-Cola spokesman declined to comment on details of the campaign but said it would break as scheduled. Coke will exhibit new products and advertising at the Food Marketing Institute this week.
Infiniti unveils outdoor effort in New York
[Gardena, Calif.] Seeking to marry its stylish 2004 G35 Sport Coupe with art, Nissan North America's infinity launches an LED billboard across from New York's Penn Station today that features the work of a local artist with a white G35. "A Study in White" is the headline, which will change to other colors and other artists who answered print and online ads seeking work. Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. handles. Infiniti has the board into next year.
Staples launches review, drops Martin/Williams
[Framingham, Mass.] Staples split with its agency of one year, Interpublic's Martin/Williams, Minneapolis, and launched a review for its TV creative account. A spokeswoman for the retailer said the decision was mutual and "not about their creative, just trying to evolve the brand promise." Martin/Williams broke its first Staples campaign, tagged "It's that easy" in early 2003, replacing Cliff Freeman & Partners' award-winning "Yeah, we got that" effort. Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., has already sent out RFPs to agencies and a decision is expected within 60 days, said the spokeswoman. Grey Global Group's MediaCom, New York, retains the media portion of the account. Staples spent $56.6 million on TV advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. See AdAge.com aap59a
Heinz reviews account for frozen foods brands
[Pittsburgh] H.J. Heinz Co. is reviewing its $9 million ad account for its frozen brands-Smart Ones, Ore-Ida and Bagel Bites-with an eye toward consolidating the rest of its $15 million businesses. Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, handled the frozen brands until it resigned them to take on ConAgra Food Co.'s Banquet in March. Smart Ones prepared dinners and entrees received $9 million in measured media in 2003, while Ore-Ida or Bagel Bites received nothing, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. A Heinz spokesman said that while its Heinz ketchup and Classico pasta sauces are "not currently under review," roster shops-including Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Worldwide in Chicago, and Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis-and other unnamed agencies have been encouraged to participate in the frozen foods review. Heinz aims to conclude the review by September. Roth Associates, New York, is handling. See AdAge.com aap59c
KFC shows fry pride in latest campaign
[Louisville, Ky.] With sales getting worse and facing its most difficult year-over-year comparisons, KFC Corp. on May 3 breaks its "Chicken Capital USA" anthem campaign. The effort via Interpublic's Foote Cone & Belding, Chicago, targets middle-class Americans with a "fried with pride" mentality. Spots are scored with a snappy jingle sung by country music star Trace Adkins and show people declaring their love for chicken with t-shirts and bumper stickers that declare "ain't afraid of chicken" and "I brake for KFC." A separate series for the Yum Brand's Oven Roasted line, called Drive Thru Diva, targets women with a soulful track called "Ladies Day in Chicken Capital USA." KFC posted a 7% sales drop in the four weeks ended Apr. 17.
Omnicom Group's OMD picked up digital buying and planning duties for McDonald's kids and adult targeted products. The account had previously been handled by Starcom MediaVest Group, Chicago, part of Publicis. ... Unilever's Ben & Jerry's has tapped independent Hawkeye/FFWD, Dallas, to handle promotions. The gourmet ice cream brand received $1.4 million in measured media last year. ... Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing merged the sales and marketing staffs of its business titles Inc. and Fast Company into a unit it calls The Business Group. ... Interpublic's Temerlin McClain, Dallas, will change its name to TM, the agency confirmed.