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[San Francisco] Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, San Francisco, has laid off 17 staff members in recent weeks following the loss of media buying and planning responsibilities for software giant Oracle Corp., according to an executive familiar with the situation. The enterprise-software maker moved those responsibilities to Starcom, a unit of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, following a review (AdAge.com QwikFIND aap68v). Neither creative responsibilities, which are handled by Oracle in-house, nor direct-marketing duties, handled by Grey Global Group's GreyDirect, were part of the review. The staff cuts represented about 10% of Grey's 200-person staff, said the executive. (See related story, P. 3.)

Lands' End taps Whitehead as top marketing executive

[Dodgeville, Wis.] Apparel company Lands' End is set to hire Edward Whitehead, previously the senior VP-marketing for sporting-goods retailer Galyans Trading Co., as its new top marketing executive, said an executive familiar with the situation. Lee Eisenberg, the previous top marketer for Lands' End, a unit of Sears, Roebuck & Co., left the company earlier this year. Retailer Dick's Sporting Goods earlier this month announced that it was acquiring Galyans. Lands' End and Galyans executives didn't return calls seeking comment.

Ad groups criticize tobacco legislation

[Washington] Ad groups declared the tobacco-buyout legislation, approved by the Senate on July 15, the most restrictive on advertising ever. The groups said they consider it "a dangerous precedent" and will consider a First Amendment lawsuit if the House goes along. The Senate bill gives the Food and Drug Administration the right to regulate tobacco and imposes the regulations the FDA first proposed in 1996, including a bar on imagery or color in advertising in magazines with more than 15% under 18 readership or for large magazines, even with less. The Association of National Advertisers, American Advertising Federation and Association of National Advertisers say they are worried that the limits could be precedent for other limits on fast food, junk food and alcohol ads and violent TV programs.

Microsoft, Intel seek agency on joint venture

[Santa Clara, Calif.] Microsoft Corp. and Intel, whose so-called Wintel systems have dominated the computer industry, have begun a search for an advertising agency to handle an unspecified joint project expected to be in market by the end of the year, an Intel spokeswoman said. "It's too soon to comment on what the project is" or its size and scope, the spokeswoman said. However, she said neither Microsoft's agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, San Francisco, nor Havas' Euro, Intel's agency, will participate in the search for a separate, mutually agreed upon shop.

Animated character pitches for Honda

[Torrance, Calif.] In a different twist for retail auto ads, Honda introduces an animated pitchman this week for its 2004 model clear-out sale. Unlike many in-your-face car-clearance TV ads, the American Honda Motor Co. brand keeps its low-key approach in five regional dealer TV commercials. "I'm Mr. Opportunity and I'm knocking," the character quips in most spots by independent Rubin Postaer & Associates, Santa Monica. Honda's regional dealer ad groups spent $9 million in the first quarter and $17 million in calendar 2003 in measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. Honda said its 2004 first-half vehicle sales were 589,286 units that it and set a record in June of 99,919 cars and trucks. Even the brand's outgoing 2004 Odyssey had a record June sales month. The minivan's next-generation model arrives this fall.

Digital Impact buys search-engine marketer

[San Francisco] In the first marriage of e-mail and search marketing, e-mail marketing firm Digital Impact has acquired Marketleap, a search engine marketing company, for $1.5 million in cash and 1.25 million of Digital Impact's shares and options. The 10-employee company will join San Francisco-based DI's 10-person search-acquisition group. "Our goal is to become an integrated digital marketing company, and e-mail is the leading outbound, and search is the leading inbound communication," said Michael Gorman, senior VP-search and acquisition. For clients, this means that they won't have to deal with six or eight or vendors to manage one interactive program, said Noel McMichael, former head of Marketleap who is now VP-search marketing at DI.

Sprint PCS, landline icons go on a date

[Overland Park, Kan.] Sprint today makes its bundled-offering strategy clearer in an ad campaign showing a date between the black-trench-coated Sprint PCS guy with the landline phone company's icon, Debi, the enthusiastic Sprint service representative. The campaign has spots featuring a calling feature allowing for unlimited calling between Sprint PCS and Sprint landline phones. "It seemed natural to have Debi and the Sprint Guy together to symbolize" integration, said Mike Conaghan, director-marketing operations, Sprint Local Telecommunications Division, in a statement. Spots initially will run in three states and spread throughout Sprint markets throughout the end of the year. Spending was not disclosed.

Beckman to head Conde Nast Media Group

[New York] Richard Beckman, Conde Nast Publications' exec VP-chief marketing officer, was named president of the newly formed division Conde Nast Media Group. The Media Group will handle corporate sales packages for magazine divisions Conde Nast, Fairchild Publications, Golf Digest Cos. and newspaper supplement Parade, as well as for online arm CondeNet. Read more at AdAge.com QwikFIND aap81f

Kia replaces AAR with Achenbaum

[Irvine, Calif.] Kia Motors America said last week's switch to Achenbaum Bogda Associates as consultant shouldn't delay the September timing of finishing its creative review. Achenbaum succeeds AAR Partners, New York, which had started Subaru of America's creative pitch when it won Kia's in early June. Chairman Alvin Achenbaum handled Kia affiliate Hyundai Motor America's review in the mid-1980s for its U.S. entry. James Lee, then Hyundai's top marketing chief, is now senior executive advisor of Kia and its former president-CEO. But Mr. Lee wasn't believed to have been involved in this selection.

FYI...

Mike Colt, 62, the longtime top creative on Philip Morris account at Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, is retiring at the end of the year, the agency confirmed. Bob Dreveny currently is the top creative. ... Tribune Co. disclosed July 15 that inflated circulation at its Newsday and Hoy newspapers stretch back to 2001, and that the size of its overstatement is larger than previously reckoned. Company executives did not specify how extensive restatements are. The company also said it would set aside $35 million for advertisers that had been charged for the overstated circulation.

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