NISSAN MERGING UNITS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCY

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Nissan Motor Co. said it will merge its Nissan North America and Nissan Motor Corp. USA units by the end of the year to plan for "more efficient market-oriented business management" as it prepares to launch eight new models over the next 18 months. Nissan plans an unspecified "further consolidation of U.S. operations."

Panayi to run Y&R interactive division

Andreas Panayi was appointed president of Brand Dialogue, New York, a new post at the interactive marketing unit of Young & Rubicam. He was previously senior partner, director of international operations at Poppe Tyson.

NAD backs Campbell claim on low-fat ad

In a case involving comparative "low-fat" claims, Campbell Soup Co. had adequate substantiation to support an ad that said its Swanson chicken broth contains one-third the fat per serving of rival Nabisco's College Inn brand, National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus said. Nabisco had challenged the ad, saying it implied its College Inn brand was high-fat. BBDO Worldwide, New York, is the Campbell agency.

TV networks settle on new fall schedules

NBC said "Frasier" will fill the Thursday 9 p.m. (ET) slot that had been occupied by "Seinfeld." NBC also is adding four new half-hour sitcoms, two hourlong dramas and giving "Dateline NBC" a fifth night. New sitcoms "Conrad Bloom" (8:30 p.m.) and "Will & Grace" (9:30 p.m.) join the Monday night schedule. On Tuesday, new sitcom "Encore! Encore!" gets the 8:30 p.m. slot, and returning shows "Just Shoot Me" (9 p.m., home to "Frasier" in the 1997-98 season) and "Working" (9:30 p.m.) join from elsewhere. On Wednesday, "Dateline NBC" gets the 8 p.m. slot. On Saturdays, new hourlong drama "Wind on the Water" joins at 8 p.m. At CBS, the biggest surprise was what the network did not announce. Despite "Seinfeld's" departure, CBS announced no changes to its Thursday lineup. CBS Television President-CEO Leslie Moonves said the most-surprising show on the new CBS schedule is a drama entitled "Martial Law," with Chinese action star Sammo Hung playing a one-man police department. ABC announced five new comedies and three new dramas. "Home Improvement" will move to 8 p.m. Tuesday against NBC's "Mad About You," and "Spin City" will move to 9 p.m. Tuesday. ABC is dumping its long-running "Sunday Night Movie" and replacing it at 9 p.m. with "20/20" and at 10 p.m. with "The Practice." Fox Broadcasting announced six new series. In clips from one of them, "Feelin' All Right," a sitcom scheduled for Sundays at 8:30 p.m., it appeared that in one scene some teen-age characters were depicted as being stoned. Fox's big scheduling gambit was moving "King of the Hill" to Tuesdays at 8 p.m., opposite "Home Improvement" and "Mad About You."

Campbell unveils multiple soup lines

Campbell Soup Co., bidding to reverse a 3% decline in domestic soup volume for the quarter ended May 3, unveiled new soup items for the fall: two Swanson flavored broths and three new baked potato-based Chunky soup varieties. Campbell also changed the name of its premium, ready-to-serve Jos. E. Campbell signature soups to Simply Home and will launch a kids' ad effort to back new Rugrats Pasta with chicken and broth. BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles all Campbell soups except Chunky, at Y&R Advertising, New York.

Interpublic sports units are combined

Octagon Group, New York, the sports marketing arm of Interpublic Group of Cos., merged two units -- Advantage International, Washington, and API Group, London -- after acquiring the 40% of API it did not already own. Lee Fentress, chairman and co-founder of Advantage, will be chairman of the unnamed combined company. Alan Pascoe, API's chairman, will leave the company and Matthew Wheeler, API's CEO, will assume another post with Octagon in London.

Budget reviewing; Hill Holliday out

Budget Rent a Car Corp. placed its $35 million account in review. In an announcement, the company said the new management installed last April wanted to search for a new agency in Chicago to handle expected growth and acquisitions. Incumbent Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, is not participating in the review, which is expected to wrap up by July.

Lois/USA acquiring Scaros & Casselman

Lois/USA, New York, reached agreement to acquire Scaros & Casselman, Stamford, Conn., an agency with $25 million in billings and clients including Hiram Walker & Sons and Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts. Terms were not disclosed. Scaros & Casselman will merge with Lois/EJL, New York; CEO Dean Scaros will become president-chief operating officer. Ted Veru will give up the president's title and remain co-chief executive of Lois/USA.

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