[Bentonville, Ark.] Wal-Mart Stores has pruned the list of agencies contending for its $570 million creative account. They are incumbents Omnicom Group's GSD&M and independent Bernstein-Rein, as well as Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis Worldwide and Leo Burnett; Interpublic's Draft FCB Group and the Martin Agency; WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather and JWT; and one undisclosed agency. Following another round of cuts, a final decision is expected in September.
Leo Burnett to cut staff in Detroit office
[Detroit] Following its loss of Cadillac's global creative duties to Modernista, Leo Burnett, Detroit, is facing layoffs and a change in focus. Jim Moore, president of the shop, said "there will be a right-sizing" of the office following the account loss, although he declined to say when cuts would be made or how many positions would be affected. Mr. Moore added that the General Motors-exclusive office now would have to aggressively pursue new business in non-auto categories.
Frank Lowe snags Heineken business
[Amsterdam] Heineken International appointed Frank Lowe's Red Brick Road, London, to its international business after a pitch against incumbent StrawberryFrog, Amsterdam. Agencies that handle Heineken's individual country accounts aren't affected. The international business focuses mainly on advertising and marketing around international sports and other events sponsored by Heineken. Mr. Lowe has had a long relationship with the Heineken family, and was expected to win business from the brewer. Red Brick Road opened this year by taking the Tesco account from Mr. Lowe's previous agency, Lowe Worldwide.
GM enters 'discussions' with Renault and Nissan
[Detroit] General Motors Corp.'s board July 7 authorized Chairman-CEO Rick Wagoner to begin "exploratory discussions" with Renault and Nissan about an alliance of the U.S., French and Japanese automakers. Mr. Wagoner said in a statement that the world's biggest automaker will enter the talks with "an open mind." The announcement came a week after GM investor Kirk Kerkorian proposed the alliance. A deal could challenge Mr. Wagoner's own turnaround plans; an agreement could result in the partners taking a stake in GM, with Renault and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn possibly joining GM's board and conceivably succeeding Mr. Wagoner at some point. Renault earlier operated in the U.S. through Renault-backed American Motors Corp., which Chrysler Corp. bought in 1987.
Volkswagen seeks Rabbit hole in New York
[Auburn Hills, Mich.] Volkswagen of America, as part of its re-introduction of its Rabbit, has asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for permission to transform the exterior of one of the Lincoln Tunnel openings into a rabbit hole, Automotive News reports. According to Karen Marderosian, director of marketing for the brand, the Port Authority is considering it. The Rabbit is being pitched to young urban buyers via ads from Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami. VW is concentrating its marketing in 15 cities, including New York, Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.
Wal-Mart consortium for TV auction moves ahead
[New York] The Wal-Mart-led consortium of advertisers trying to build support for an electronic-auction system for trading TV airtime is moving ahead with plans. In an e-mail this week, Julie Roehm, senior VP-marketing communications for Wal-Mart Stores, confirmed the group, which includes Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Lexus, Philips and Mars, hopes to have a system in operation by the first quarter of 2007. The group is holding a planning meeting this month and has the support of the Association of National Advertisers. The Wal-Mart-backed group hopes to raise $50 million between the participants to experiment with TV auctions.
DMA phases out own do-not-call list
[Washington] The Direct Marketing Association announced it is phasing out most of its telephone preference service, which has been made obsolete by the Federal Trade Commission's do-not-call registry. DMA established its list in 1985 as a way for consumers to indicate they didn't want to be called by direct marketers, and promoted its voluntary list as an alternative to government regulation. The FTC list was started in June 2003. DMA said it will maintain the list for residents of Maine, Pennsylvania and Wyoming, where the list is the official state registry.
Levi's Marineau to retire; Anderson tapped as COO
[[San Francisco] Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Phil Marineau will retire at the end of 2006 after a seven-year tenure, during which he turned the denim marketer from steeply declining outfit to stable company. Mr. Marineau has named John Anderson, president of Levi's Asia Pacific division and president of the company's global supply-chain organization, to the new position of chief operating officer, positioning him as a strong contender for CEO.
Miller Brewing Co. is moving the estimated $33 million Hispanic account for Miller Lite to Creative on Demand, Miami, and the estimated $3 million Hispanic business for Miller Genuine Draft to La Comunidad, Miami, after a review. ... Jean Pool has joined the advisory board of online advertising agency Performance Bridge. She was previously exec VP- chief operating officer of North America at Interpublic's Universal McCann.