[fort lauderdale, fla.-nov. 20] Blockbuster Entertainment begins its holiday campaign Nov. 25. The TV, radio and print effort, from new agency Bernstein-Rein, Kansas City, Mo., is themed "We can help" and includes shots of employees helping customers select gifts. A 55 million-piece free-standing insert promoting video and music products will drop on Thanksgiving. Blockbuster also is introducing a stored-value "gift card" that can be bought in $5 increments up to $25.
[auburn hills, mich.-nov. 20] Chrysler Corp. launches what it calls a new automotive retail concept Nov. 25. The 15,000-square-foot "Great Cars. Great Trucks" store will open at the giant Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. Ross Roy Communications, Bloomfield Hills, Mich., oversaw the project. Among the features: driving simulators of the carmaker's vehicles, videogames, Chrysler licensed merchandise and computer kiosks, where shoppers can get specs for Chrysler vehicles. Product specialists will answer questions, but no vehicles will be sold at the store.
[washington-nov. 21] As expected, five carmakers signed consent agreements with the Federal Trade Commission to settle complaints of deceptive car lease advertising. The settlements require lease ads from General Motors Corp., Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, American Honda Motor Co., American Isuzu Motors and Mazda Motor of America to provide clear, readable and understandable cost data. The FTC said it will continue to monitor all "zero-down" auto lease and credit ads. The FTC cited specific TV spots from the five that buried or hid additional lease costs in "mouse print" or in scrolling lines that moved quickly on the screen.
[new york-nov. 21] The Sci-Fi Channel is looking for an ad agency of record for its estimated $4 million account. "We are ideally looking for a full-service agency that has a combination of brand building and creative expertise," said Andrew Besch, senior VP-marketing at Sci-Fi parent USA Networks. Sci-Fi's current agency-Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif.-will not be participating in the review. Richard Roth Associates, Chappaqua, N.Y., is handling the Sci-Fi review.
[battle creek, mich.-nov. 18] Cereal king Kellogg Co. is buying Lender's Bagels from Kraft Inc. for $455 million. Kellogg said Lender's would help expand its growing variety in breakfast foods; Kellogg already competes in toaster pastries, waffles and cereal bars. Kraft had already made known its intentions to exit the baked goods category, having sold Entenmann's to CPC International earlier this year. Current Lender's agency J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, is already a Kellogg roster agency.
[new york-nov. 19] Shoppers expect to spend a total of $1,160 this holiday season, with an average $900 for gifts and the rest for entertaining, decorations and travel, according to an American Express Co. consumer survey. The American Express Retail Index is based on a national poll of 800 consumers. The estimates are level with what consumers said they expected to spend last year.
[el segundo, calif.-nov. 18] Mattel will purchase Tyco Toys, the U.S.' No. 3 toy marketer, for $755 million. The deal will add Matchbox, View-Master and Magna Doodle toys to Mattel's Hot Wheels and Barbie franchises. The move will put Mattel firmly into the top spot among toy marketers, ahead of Hasbro. Tyco's estimated $25 million account is handled by Bozell, New York. Mattel's agencies are the Los Angeles offices of Foote, Cone & Belding and Ogilvy & Mather. It was reported late in the week that some Tyco stockholders might oppose the deal.