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[Wayne, N.J.] Toys `R' Us selected WPP Group's Young & Rubicam, New York, to handle its advertising account, a spokeswoman for the agency confirmed. The shop won following a review that included incumbent Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett in Chicago, as well as Omnicom Group's DDB in Chicago, and Interpublic Group's Foote Cone & Belding in New York. Media was not part of the review and continues to be handled by Publicis' Starcom in Chicago. The account will be run out of Y&R in New York, led by Bob Kantor, who joined the agency in April. The company spent $116 million in measured media in 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Calls to the retailer were not returned at press time. See AdAge.com QwikFIND aap61d

Sprint breaks $100M Fair & Flexible ad blitz

[Overland Park, Kan.] Sprint launches a $100 million advertising blitz today in support of its Fair & Flexible plan, a wireless phone plan designed to automatically adjust to customer's month-to-month minutes usage at a fair price. For example, when a customer goes over their monthly minutes, the plan automatically adds 25 minutes to their account, at a cost of just $2.50. The base rate for Fair & Flexible is $35 dollars for 300 minutes. The ads, created by Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, use children in a documentary style to point out the natural confusion caused by current wireless business models. The integrated campaign, which includes TV, print, radio and Internet, will run aggressively for the initial launch period of two to three months. See the spot: AdAge.com QwikFIND aap61e

Murdoch: Fox getting $1M for `American Idol' spots

[Sydney] Fox is charging advertisers $1 million for a 30 second spot in the finale of "American Idol", according to Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of News Corp., who commented as part of an analysts' conference call on News Corp.'s quarter to March 31. "American Idol" also helped drive the company's TV segment operating income up 25% to $259 million. Net income for the quarter was $465 million compared with $275 million for the same period last year. DirecTV also added 460,000 subscribers for the period. Mr. Murdoch commented that Fox was planning to expand its cable channels business, but declined to elaborate what type of new channels would launch.

HSBC to announce winner by month's end

[London] Financial services company HSBC Holdings said it will announce a winner in its global marketing services review by the middle or the end of this month, according to a company spokeswoman. HSBC launched a review of its advertising partners in January, with the goal of "minimizing the number of agenices and maximizing synergies and cost effectiveness," the company said. Holding company teams that have met with HSBC over the last three months to vie for the multi-million account include Interpublic's Lowe & Partners Worldwide, the creative incumbent, teamed with siblings Initiative Media, MRM and Plus Consulting Group. WPP has assembled a team comprised of WPP's J. Walter Thompson in the U.S., Red Cell in Europe and Bates Asia in Asia, MindShare and 141 Worldwide. Omnicom's group includes AMV BBDO Worldwide, Promixity, and OMD and PHD. Media incumbent Publicis' Zenith Optimedia is not vying for the business, although HSBC has said that if finding a holding company with global capabilities is not feasible, then Zenith may be reconsidered.

Wrigley, Cadbury spar in kids' gum segment

[Chicago] Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. plans to step up advertising in the kids-targeted gum arena with a $14 million TV and print campaign to support its new dual-flavored Hubba Bubba Max. The campaign, which begins in October from Omnicom's BBDO, Chicago, is part of a renewed push to drive sales of the under-marketed Hubba Bubba brand. Wrigley last year extended the Hubba Brand to its Bubble Tape line and plans to further innovate on the line to reach kids. Cadbury Adams in March signed NBA star LeBron James as the spokesman for its likewise unadvertised Bubblicious brand and Masterfoods USA has recently entered the category with new Skittles Bubble Gum. Wrigley also plans to push hard against its Orbit franchise, with $75 million in advertising slated to begin in September through 2005, $27 million of that toward its teeth whitening Orbit White.

Reinhard's group offers behavioral tips to U.S.

[New York] On the heels of an NOP World study that shows diminishing foreign regard for American culture and products (See AdAge.com QwikFIND aap60t), Business for Diplomatic Action is ramping up to solicit an initial $1 million for projects that address anti-Americanism. DDB Worldwide Chairman Keith Reinhard, coalition president, said part of the initiative is a Web site where companies can exchange information to "help them be good citizens of a country versus bad tourists." Also included: free educational programs that teach foreign children English and about technology, and a booklet for American students studying abroad telling them how America fits into the world stage. The board meets today with members including academics, agency executives and researchers. The group has 150 members.

FYI ...

Independent design shop turned ad agency Attik is expanding its New York design studio to include branding and advertising services. ... Independent public relations firm Edelman has acquired one of London's biggest names in consumer public relations, Jackie Cooper PR, for an undisclosed price. ... Samsung will start making country and regional visits later this month for its global account worth up to $700 million, seeing the four biggest holding companies, with final presentations expected to be made at the end of June in Korea, said executives familiar with the business ... Omnicom is combining its three main U.K. media agencies-OMD U.K., Manning Gottlieb OMD and PHD Group-Into the country's largest media buyer under the name Opera to handle media buying, as well as pooling research and information resources. ... ConAgra Foods in June will launch a line of refrigerated meal kits intended for use with slow cookers. Banquet Crock-Pot Classics will be backed in September by the largest-ever ad campaign for the Banquet brand. New agency DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, a unit of Omnicom, handles. ConAgra spent $2.6 million on Banquet in 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. ... Nestle USA will launch a lighter wafer version of its popular Butterfinger candy bar this September that goes up against rival Hershey Foods' ReeseSticks. Nestle Butterfinger Crisp will be supported with TV and print running January through October from WPP's J. Walter Thompson, Chicago. ... Mark Goldstein, chief marketing officer for Publicis' Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, is leaving to become global chief marketing officer at Lowe & Partners Wordlwide, New York, part of Interpublic.

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