RUSSIAN, ASIAN CRISES DRAG DOWN MEXICO

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[mexico city] The Russian and Asian economic crises are slamming Mexico just as it was finally recovering from its own post-devaluation crisis, but the effect on Mexico's ad industry remains unclear. Economic growth here is expected to slow to about 4% over the next two years, after the country posted a solid 5.4% increase during the first six months of 1998, President Ernesto Zedillo said in his state of the nation address. The peso has depreciated 25% in a matter of weeks and interest rates have shot up. The fundamentals of the economy are intact, but Mexico is suffering from a lack of differentiation among emerging markets, government officials said. Imports of consumer goods, which had been growing at a steady pace, are now expected to decline. Consumers may pull back on spending if already tight credit is squeezed further. One Latin American ad executive said he has yet to see any reining in of overall investments by his clients, but that some are holding back on marketing efforts. "They want to wait and see like everyone else," he said. Emilio Azcarraga Jean, CEO of broadcast giant Televisa, said his company will be affected by lower programming sales to Asia and lower revenue from some reciprocal agreements with other broadcasters, according to local press reports.

`Asiaweek' launches global ad campaign

[hong kong] Time Warner's Asiaweek launched a global TV and print campaign, created by Leo Burnett, Hong Kong, and targeting both advertisers and consumers. "With the ever-changing face of business in Asia as well as the downturn in the region's economies, we felt the need for a global branding campaign was greater than ever before," said Asiaweek President Jack Maisano, adding, "We are constantly telling marketers that it is key to advertise during a recession. Asiaweek believes in this, and we are taking a proactive approach."

Hong Kong mulls overhaul of telecom regulations

[hong kong] The Hong Kong government has proposed an overhaul of broadcasting and telecommunications regulations that, if enacted, could make the territory the most liberalized TV market in Asia. Among the proposals is abolishing a 9% royalty on the ad revenue of the two terrestrial broadcast networks. The changes in the ad and subscription royalty structure for TV program service licensees would put about $25 million a year back into the pockets of dominant broadcaster Television Broadcasts Ltd., known as TVB. In return, broadcasters will be asked to pay the full cost of license fee administration and regulation. This amounts to about $1.2 million a year for TVB alone, said Stephen Chan, TVB's controller-program and external affairs division. The 35 government proposals also include relaxing ownership and investment restrictions on TV licenses. Hong Kong's move to liberalization follows years of criticism about piecemeal ordinances and ad hoc regulations that characterized the broadcast environment.

Y&R names new Euro chiefs as Montero retires

[london] Leadership of Y&R Advertising Europe will shift to a triumvirate of executives as Chairman-CEO Fernan Montero retires Sept. 15. Bruno Widmer, president of Advico Y&R, Zurich, will take on the additional role of chairman-CEO of Y&R Europe; Bert Meerstadt, chairman of the Y&R Group Netherlands, will relocate here as president and director of European operations; and Alain Rousset, Y&R Europe's London-based chief financial officer, will become chief operating officer-Europe. Mr. Montero's exit is the most senior departure from Y&R since its May 12 stock offering on the New York Stock Exchange; he's in line to collect about $20 million in stock options.

Nielsen expands retail audit in China

[hong kong] ACNielsen Corp. launched a new retail audit of China's estimated 2.2 million outlets. The village audit is under way in eastern and southern provinces and will be expanded to northern and western provinces in 1999. The expansion of Nielsen's China Retail Audit service into the villages enhances the national city and town audit available since 1995. Previous research by Nielsen indicated villages account for about 25% of the country's total retail sales of package goods. The new village audit is the first of two major retail measurement initiatives undertaken by Nielsen this year. The other is the development of more than 20 city audit panels, bringing to 30 Nielsen's coverage of key cities across China.

Taylor Nelson Sofres pushes global identity

[london] Taylor Nelson Sofres is rolling out its new name and corporate identity in the 33 countries where the market research company operates. The change follows last year's merger of U.K.-based Taylor Nelson and the French information company Sofres. The company, with annual sales topping $480 million, provides research on sectors including automotive, business services and finance, consumer, healthcare, information technology, media and telecommunications.

NFL expands international coverage, programming

[new york] The National Football League has developed new programming for international markets and is expanding its coverage of games outside the U.S. For the first time, coverage in the NFL's core international territories of Canada, Mexico and Japan will match that in the U.S., enabling fans to watch a full season of 252 games in each of those countries. In addition, other new broadcasters will provide coverage of the NFL, including in Germany, Norway and the U.K. In total, NFL action will be viewed in 161 territories this season. New programming includes a series of educational TV vignettes to boost awareness.

Honda gives Scottish agency pan-Euro launch

[reading, england] Honda Motor Europe appointed the Leith Agency, Edinburgh, Scotland, to develop pan-European advertising for a new car be launched early next year. The agency found its way onto the pitch list because Honda executives were impressed with its work for A.G. Barr's Irn-Bru soft drink. Leith competed against St. Luke's, London; Paradiset DDB, Stockholm; Grey Advertising-owned Dorland, Berlin; and CDP, London. CDP and Dorland were the only Honda roster agencies involved; CDP holds the account in the U.K. and Dorland has the brand TV and print advertising in Germany. The new car is expected to be a small, four-wheel-drive model.

Murdoch yields Star TV leadership role to Chang

[hong kong] News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch relinquished his role as the head of Star TV, his Asian satellite TV service, to make way for Chinese-born Gareth Chang. The appointment is seen as a strategic move to gain News Corp. greater access to the Chinese market. Mr. Chang, 55, who was raised in Hong Kong and emigrated to the U.S. in 1959, was previously corporate senior VP-marketing of Hughes Electronics Corp. and president of Hughes Electronics International, as well as chairman-CEO of DirecTV Japan and president of DirecTV International. He is credited with successfully launching the DirecTV digital satellite TV platform in Japan and with forging "many groundbreaking commercial partnerships in China and elsewhere in the Asian region," News Corp. said. At Star TV, Mr. Chang is executive chairman and has a place on the News Corp. board and its executive committee. Gary Davey will retain his position as CEO of Star TV.

Lego builds alliance with Danish publisher

[copenhagen] Toy marketer Lego entered into a global alliance with publishing's Egmont Group. The two companies will develop and launch new-media products targeted at children across the world. "This is going to be big, very big, and we hope profitable for both companies," said Egmont CEO Jan Froshaug. "Lego and Egmont are two Danish companies with a strong global presence, and this alliance is designed to strengthen this presence." Egmont, which produces and markets 70% of the children's magazines and books marketed in Europe, is active in 28 countries worldwide. Lego is present in 37 countries. The new-media products are expected to include CD-ROM magazines and games that will include the Egmont and Lego logos.

CNBC brings Harrods into shopping via TV

[london] CNBC Europe, the TV service of NBC and Dow Jones & Co., teamed up with independent U.K. producer Mentorn Group to develop a weekend programming package that will include TV shopping from upscale U.K. store Harrods. The interactive shopping venture will mark the first time European consumers have had the chance to buy products from Harrods via the TV. "Gold Card Television" will consist of "relaxing, informative and entertaining" magazine-style shows catering to the CNBC audience of international business news viewers. The programming will include a travel show about three-day getaways, a fashion program and a guide to Europe's top restaurants. The package kicks off Sept. 5 and 6 in 2-hour blocks.

" `Gold Card Television' will be a sample of a new genre of weekend viewing for our upmarket audience," said Allan Horlick, president and managing director of CNBC Europe.

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