[Universal City, Calif.] Universal Studios Theme Parks has narrowed the agency search for its $20 million account to six finalists. They include: Deutsch, Santa Monica; Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, Torrance; and TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice. Foote, Cone & Belding, Los Angeles, and incumbents DDB Needham Worldwide, Los Angeles, and Seiniger Kaufman, Beverly Hills, are also believed to be in.
[New York] The National Football League has pared the candidates for its megabuck telecommunications sponsor to AT&T Corp. and Sprint Communications Corp., with the latter said to still have the edge. The NFL is said to be asking for a five-year deal with the winner paying at least $39 million a year in rights fees, services and media on its TV partners. Such a deal would be the biggest sponsorship agreement in pro sports.
[New York] Consumer magazine advertising pages for the first quarter of 1996 dropped 3.9% to 47,338.4, compared with the same period a year ago, but ad revenue was up 5.1% to $2.3 billion, according to figures released by the Publishers Information Bureau. March ad pages dropped 2.8%, with ad revenue up 6.2% to $914.4 million.
[Redmond, Wash.] Microsoft Corp. will begin a review this week of its $10 million-plus business-to-business direct marketing account. Anderson & Lembke, San Francisco, surrendered the account in February. Pickholz Tweedy Cowan, New York, is coordinating the "by invitation only" review.
[Rocky Mount, N.C.] Hardee's Food Systems has awarded its $75 million media buying account to International Communications Group, Los Angeles. The winner beat out finalist Western International Media; the account had been handled by five regional agencies. Hardee's is said to be unofficially seeking creative assistance from agencies other than Euro RSCG Tatham, Chicago, which won the account last year.
[Warren, Mich.] General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet division sent bids to four outside companies to help run its review to significantly trim the 86-shop roster handling dealer marketing groups. The groups spend $300 million on regional ads. All 86 shops will be invited to the pitch.
[San Antonio, Texas] Both SBC Communications' and Pacific Telesis Group's regional Bell brands will survive the proposed $17 billion merger, but the new partners said in a statement last week that SBC would lead marketing efforts under the proposed new company. Both SBC and Pacific Telesis are holding separate reviews for their entries into long distance. The estimated $40 million SBC account review includes D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis; GSD&M, Austin, Texas; and Fogarty Klein & Partners, Houston. Pacific Bell Communications has 20 agencies in an estimated $50 million-plus review.
[New York] Huge costs need to be cut out of advertising and marketing, said Jim Press, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales USA's Lexus division. "Advertising and marketing will be the next frontier," he said at a marketing seminar sponsored by Automotive News. "The only thing that has gone up faster than the yen is the [cost of] the media...The manufacturing costs are going down so substantially" that marketing and distribution will represent 60% of a vehicle's cost not long after the turn of the century, he predicted.
[Plano, Texas] Frito-Lay Co. next month rolls out Fritos Texas Grill, a grilled chip in honey barbecue and fajita flavors. A TV spot from DDB Needham Worldwide, New York, features singer Reba McEntire.
[Grand Rapids, Mich.] Driver's Mart, a new chain of used-car superstores, met with at least four New York agencies about its $5 million ad account, projected to hit $40 million by 1997. New York shops Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, Deutsch, Warwick Baker & Fiore and Fallon McElligott Berlin are among 10 shops contacted.
Interpublic Group of Cos. reportedly will announce today it is buying Angotti, Thomas, Hedge, New York....First Union National Bank Corp., Charlotte, N.C., narrowed its $30 million account review to three finalists, believed to be Grey Advertising and Merkley Newman Harty, both New York, and Hal Riney & Partners, San Francisco....Del Taco, Orange, Calif., has whittled the agency search for its $10 million account to Grey Advertising and incumbent Italia/Gal, both Los Angeles; and Kovel Kresser and Suissa/Miller, both Santa Monica....Michael Bevan to national advertising and merchandising manager at Toyota Motor Sales USA, Torrance, Calif. He succeeds Irving Miller, promoted to the new post of VP-field operations from corporate manager-advertising and merchandising....Los Angeles Cellular Telephone, Cerritos, Calif., is holding a closed review for its new $25 million account with BBDO Worldwide and Dailey & Associates, both Los Angeles; Campbell-Ewald, Santa Monica; Team One, El Segundo; and a fifth agency....BMW, Munich, was notified Menzel Nolte, Hamburg, will resign its $57 million German account at yearend due to differences over strategy....Burger King Corp. this week is breaking its $20 million breakfast campaign from Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York.... Hills Stores Co., Canton, Mass., is said to have picked these finalists for the $10 million review of its broadcast account: Richards Group, Dallas; W.B. Doner & Co., Southfield, Mich.; and Deutsch, New York.... Woolworth Corp., New York, to Publicis/Bloom from in-house for its Woolworth variety chain..