LAMATTINA TO HEAD NEW IPG MEDIA UNIT

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Larry Lamattina will be chairman-CEO of a giant media unit that Interpublic Group of Cos., New York, is creating through the alliance of Interpublic-owned Western International Media and Initiative Media Worldwide, the international media buying arm of Interpublic network Ammirati Puris Lintas. Mr. Lamattina is currently president-CEO of Interpublic's Allied Communications Group. Formation of the new unit, to be called Western Initiative Media Worldwide, was expected (AA, Oct. 5); it will handle $10 billion in media accounts.

McD's signs sluggers; introduces video

McDonald's Corp. signed home run kings Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa to appear in two commercials promoting the Big Mac. The spots will break during Major League Baseball's playoff and World Series telecasts. DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, handles. Separately, McDonald's jumped into the home video business Oct. 9 with the launch of "Scared Silly," a 40-minute, family-targeted feature starring Ronald McDonald. The video will be touted with one 15- and one 30-second TV spot from Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. It will be available at all U.S. McDonald's restaurants for $3.49 with any purchase.

Visa, MasterCard face antitrust suit

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit to force Visa USA and MasterCard International to dissolve interlocking board of directors relationships, which it says hurt consumers and restrain competition. As an example of alleged anti-competitive conduct, Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein cited a decision by MasterCard's board to reject an ad disputing Visa's "Everywhere you want to be" ad claim because the same banks running Mastercard run Visa.

Meredith to scrap `Country America'

Meredith Publishing Group will halt publication of Country America after its November issue. The every-other-monthly was launched in 1989 in association with The Nashville Network and Group W Satellite Communications.

MPA Diversity Awards honor Lalli, Scholastic

Frank Lalli and Scholastic Inc. are the two winners of the newly created Magazine Publishers of America Diversity Awards, presented in conjunction with the National Association of Minority Media Executives Awards. Mr. Lalli, former Money managing editor, received the MPA Champion of Diversity award, while Scholastic won the L.E.A.D. Award for excellence in diversity training. NAMME Award winners are Earl G. Graves Sr., CEO of Earl G. Graves Ltd., for print; Merri Dee, community relations for WGN-TV, Chicago, for broadcast; and Barry Cooper, Black Voices.com, for new media. Chuck Stone, professor, University of North Carolina, won the Robert C. Maynard Legend Award; and Jay Harris, publisher of the San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Athena grand prize goes to St. James

The $100,000 grand prize of the 1998 Athena awards, sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America for creative excellence in newspaper advertising, went to Lee St. James, creative director at Austin Kelley Advertising, Atlanta, for the "Speak Out Against Ebonics" ad paid for by Atlanta's Black Professionals. The ad's headline reads, "I has a dream," superimposed over a picture of Martin Luther King Jr.'s back. "What if Martin Luther King had not spoken as eloquently as he did? His credibility would have been diminished," Mr. St. James said of the inspiration for the ad.

Nielsen signs deals with 10 cable networks

Nielsen Media Research said it signed five-year contracts with 10 cable TV networks. Nielsen also recently signed five-year deals with True North Communications, Chicago, and Omnicom Group, New York. The length of the renewals is important as Nielsen tries to head off a possible national launch of Statistical Research Inc.'s Smart TV.

Goldblum on-camera in latest iMac spots

Actor Jeff Goldblum is featured in two new "Think different" spots that Apple Computer broke Oct. 6 in its ongoing iMac campaign. Mr. Goldblum talks on-camera about unchic "beige" computers and "consumer" fears of being left out of the e-mail and Internet revolution. He supplied the voice-over only for the first iMac spots. TBWA Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., handles.

Pollock lands at FocusVision

Former top Ammirati Puris Lintas executive Duncan Pollock was named president-chief operating officer of focus group researcher FocusVision Worldwide, Stamford, Conn. He succeeds founder John Houlahan, who remains CEO and assumes the added title of chairman. Mr. Pollock in August left Ammirati, where he was president of APL North America and chairman-CEO of Ammirati's New York office.

Avon names Behrens head of U.S. marketing

Avon Products named Vivian Behrens, 45, VP-U.S. marketing, succeeding Group VP-U.S. Marketing Barry Herstein, who left in March. Ms. Behrens was senior VP-marketing for Venator's Worldwide Foot Locker division. A former VP-marketing at Estee Lauder, at Avon she will have responsibility for cosmetics, fragrances, toiletries, jewelry and accessories, and will oversee Avon's in-house creative agency and direct marketing initiatives.

Mercer cig adjusts creative tack in ads

Canadian marketer Imperial Tobacco adopted a new creative tactic for its all-natural Mercer cigarette, test marketing in Portland, Ore. New creative plays off the 100% natural positioning. One, headlined "100% relaxed," shows a vacant easy chair, newspaper, coffee cup and lamp. Mercer was introduced in Portland last November with ads themed "100% natural. That's it. That's all." W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich., handles.

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