STARS RISE, FALL IN A TURBULENT YEAR: DOLE PROVES HE'S A REAL JOKER; ROSIE'S SMILE A $WEET $UCCESS

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I too was a steak who thought it was an escargot" is a rough assessment, but it's been a rough year at Leo Burnett Co., Chicago.

When Chairman-CEO Rick Fizdale made that candid appraisal in November, Burnett was about to reinvent itself after a year of reversals. The agency was trying to change its meat and potatoes image.

Burnett lost some of its sizzle in 1997, starting with the loss of United Airlines and the creative assignment on Miller Brewing Co.'s Lite beer. The loss of United led to a boardroom coup, which replaced CEO Bill Lynch and brought back Mr. Fizdale, who had been expecting to retire.

Burnett fell victim to a sea change in agency-client relationships. Morale was hurting, as clients left or cut back their assignments, most notably Ameritech Corp. and McDonald's Corp.

In late September, Burnett announced it would spin off its media operations into a separate subsidiary and reorganize into seven mini-agencies built around client groups. The first three agencies are expected to begin operations at the start of the new year.

LEE CLOW

Lee clow surfed back onto the advertising scene on a monster wave in 1997. Not only did he receive high honors such as entrance into New York's One Club Creative Hall of Fame, he earned a lofty title at his own shop, TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., chairman-chief creative officer worldwide.

Mr. Clow also reaped the cash benefits of the advertising momentum from the previous year's breakthrough "Mr. K" campaign for Nissan. TBWA Chiat/Day picked up what the agency estimates to be $400 million in new billings, including ABC-TV, Taco Bell Corp., and, in a heartwarming return to those glory days of 1984 and yesteryear, the Apple Computer account. Now, Mr. Clow is leading the charge on the agency's bid in the hottest brand review in years, Levi Strauss & Co.

ROSIE O'DONNELL

Rosie o'donnell was happy to give products she liked a plug -- to the delight of the marketers who benefited.

When the new American sweetheart talked about her WebTV on the air, Philips Magnavox gave one to everyone in her studio audience.

On the other hand, she wasn't shy about giving P&G's Scope the kiss-off after it released a poll proclaiming her the least kissable talk-show host. A bottle of Warner-Lambert's Listerine sat on her desk for two days. W-L thanked her by running ads in The New York Times and USA Today -- and by pledging $1,000 to her For All Kids Foundation for each show guest who kissed her.

On Mondays, Rosie chatted during commercial breaks with fans via America Online.

When she's not busy hostessing one of the most popular afternoon talk shows, viewers can find Rosie shopping for deals with pal, director Penny Marshall, in Kmart commercials from Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis.

WILLIAM SMITHBURG

The last executive domino in a long line fell at Quaker Oats Co. when Chairman-President-CEO William Smithburg announced his departure in April.

Mr. Smithburg had been under substantial pressure from investors since acquiring Snapple Beverage Corp. for $1.7 billion and selling it off less than three years later at the bargain-basement price of $300 million to Triarc Beverage Group.

Quaker's vision for Snapple -- to become as mainstream a brand as its Gatorade -- proved to be too ambitious and the company lost sight of Snapple's peculiar niche. Quaker's measures to save the brand, such as moving the account to Gatorade agency Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, ultimately failed even as Mr. Smithburg uncharacteristically took to the streets to hand out Snapple bottles as part of a huge -- and ridiculed -- sampling drive.

Mr. Smithburg bit the bullet only after a line of senior managers left, including Don Uzzi, president, Quaker Oats Beverages; Philip Marineau, president-chief operating officer, Quaker; and Margaret Stender, VP-marketing, Snapple. His replacement at Quaker is former Kraft Foods Chairman-CEO Robert Morrison.

PRINCESS DIANA

Diana, the Princess of Wales, continued to be a popular cover story subject even after her untimely death.

The response was profound and broadcasters, marketers and publishers in the U.K. and the U.S. exhibited restraint and sensitivity.

Mercedes-Benz, the marketer of the car involved in the Paris car crash, was just one carmakers that pulled or modified ads in the U.K.

British TV networks announced they would not run commercials for cars with screeching tires and ads for health and car insurance were pulled.

In the U.S., H.J. Heinz Co.'s Weight Watchers International pulled a $20 million-plus campaign featuring Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. TV advertising was pulled immediately, but print ads and direct mail headlined "Dieting is harder than outrunning paparazzi," could not be stopped. Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, is the agency.

Diana, who was the first-ever winner of Advertising Age's "Cover Story," placed in the top 10 of Cover Story every year since 1992 -- a feat matched only by Oprah Winfrey.

REED HUNDT

Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, caused a stir for advertisers and broadcasters when he called for an inquiry into liquor advertising.

Mr. Hund's edict came on the heels of a decision by Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. to drop its self-imposed moratorium on broadcast advertising. In addition, he pushed for broadcasters to increase their commitment to running public service announcements.

His initiatives may have lasting effects. His successor, Bill Kennard, has said he also wants an inquiry into liquor advertising -- and it appears he may have enough commission votes to proceed next year. Mr. Hundt -- who did not conduct an inquiry -- left the FCC last month to become chairman of a Washington-based think tank.

BOB DOLE

Bob dole went from stoic Republican to comic pitchman this year in a variety of commercials for Air France, Dunkin' Donuts, Pentax, Target Stores and Visa USA's Check Card.

In an ad for Dunkin' Donuts, Mr. Dole offered advice on retirement to Dunkin' Donut's Fred the Baker. Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetter/Euro RSCG, New York, created the commercial.

When Target announced its expansion into Kansas, it ran an ad from Martin/Williams, Minneapolis, featuring Mr. Dole in his study, discussing his commitment to better opportunity and choice for his former constituency: specifically, "Paper or Plastic."

According to Mr. Dole, the Senate knew what the public didn't find out until after the election: "I was known as a guy with humor and the funniest guy in town."

BOB THOMAS

As president-CEO of Nissan Motor Corp. USA, Bob Thomas championed the carmaker's $200 million brand campaign, started at his urging in the summer of '96 featuring the smiling Mr. K. character and his dog. The ads from TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif., created a buzz in the ad industry for their offbeat creative.

But the "Enjoy the Ride" campaign wasn't pushing sales. By last summer, Nissan was offering the highest customer incentives in the industry. Mr. Thomas heard Nissan dealers complain they wanted commercials that showed more product and beckoned customers to their showrooms.

Mr. Thomas, 52, resigned under pressure Oct. 3 and a month later, landed at Wayne Huizenga's Republic Industries as exec VP-strategic marketing, responsible for the new, used and rental car chain's brand development. He told Advertising Age last month that research proved Nissan's brand campaign was "immensely successful."

MARK WILLES

Mark willes, chairman-CEO, Times Mirror, is assuring the times are achangin' at the Los Angeles Times.

Mr. Willes is putting into place a product management approach that's causing consternation among journalists fearing it might allow newspaper business executives to break a longstanding taboo against influencing news coverage.

Mr. Willes states categorically that isn't the case. Instead, he says, his plan is to treat the paper more like package goods, examining positioning and the formula.

Readers will be regularly surveyed to gain feedback on coverage. Each section of the paper will be its own "brand" with a separate profit and loss statement, general manager and marketing approach.

In all, Mr. Willes feels he can boost the Times' current weekday circulation of 1.06 million by 500,000 with the brand management tact he's adopted from his days at General Mills.

TED TURNER

Ted turner, vice chairman of Time Warner, said he'd give $1 billion to the U.N. over 10 years, and made headlines around the world.

Mr. Turner's largess will be funded primarily from the run-up in the Time Warner stock he acquired by selling his Turner Broadcasting media empire to the even larger Time Warner; if the stock falls, so does the gift.

Soon after the Time Warner/Turner deal closed, Mr. Turner moved quickly to beef up the programming on his TBS and TNT cable stations by acquiring a number of Time Warner properties.

Mr. Turner also oversaw a presentation to advertisers and agencies by Turner

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