AD AGES

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Ammirati's Compaq brand tagline lives. And dies. Ads debuting in July computer magazines for Compaq's direct-sales operation feature the line, "May the best idea win," which Ammirati/NY pitched as a global brand tag (AA, April 13). VP-mktg. commun. Steve Huey says Compaq placed the direct ads with the expectation they would be running right after the launch of an Ammirati brand campaign. Instead, Compaq at the final hour dropped Ammirati and moved global biz to DDB Needham/NY, concluding Needham's campaign -- "Better answers" -- bested the incumbent's best idea. Needham will do new ads featuring its "Better" tag. But Huey says it was too late to pull Ammirati's "Best" ads, so the slogan gets a brief airing.

Why Microsoft is talking to shops

Steve Ballmer, Bill Gates' No. 2, studying up on e-commerce, has met with execs from companies including DDB Needham. Microsoft execs say they're happy with Wieden but top management is known to be scrutinizing advertising. Needham has Microsoft in Brazil and Australia, and would love to expand the ties. Ballmer has been talking to agency media types about Web advertising, a key area of interest for Microsoft as media player and media partner. One idle thought: Will Gates buy AOL to one-up AT&TCI?

How sparks flew at the border

Spark Factory, a TV promos company in Santa Monica, gave out old-fashioned toy spark guns at the Promax TV promo confab in Toronto, prompting U.S. Customs agents to confiscate the guns from several hundred TV sorts getting on planes for their return to the States. "Oh, you're the guys," an agent said when Spark Factory partner Tim Street made his way through Customs -- wearing a Spark Factory T-shirt. If only Street produced spots at LA's Bomb Factory.

Nerdiest newspapers

The Wall Street Journal soon could displace Ziff-Davis' PC Magazine as the No. 1 title in tech ad revenues, says Adscope. So what's the favorite daily paper of computer industry insiders? Not the Journal. It's USA Today, which reaches 21% of computer professionals, according to Simmons' latest study. That puts USAT No. 5 in reaching full-time nerds, behind tech titles PC Mag, PC World, InformationWeek and PC Computing. Journal ranks eighth.

Spam-sonian . . . size matters

Hormel's Spam has been accepted into the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. Figure that Spam has enough preservatives to outlast the rest of the collection. . . . Anderson & Lembke exec Lynda Richardson joins Microsoft in a new slot of media director, reporting to VP-corp. mktg. Jon Reingold. . . . Most intriguing promo spoofs of Sony's "Godzilla" ads: "Size does matter," ripping off the look of the movie's ads to promote Wet, a male sexual lubricant. And "Size doesn't matter," for the spritely Spyro the Dragon, a videogame created by, well, Sony PlayStation. Judging from its small feat at the box office, maybe size doesn't matter to Sony's lizard of ahs.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Jeff Jensen, Laura Petrecca, Judann Pollack and Chuck Ross.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (323) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (323) 655-8157; or e-mail, brad@crain.com.

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