BUENOS AIRES-The deregulation of Argentina's pension funds unleashed $100 million in ad spending as 24 funds clamored for consumers in May and June, trying to grab a piece of a market valued at $2.5 billion in its first year.
But by June 30, the funds had raked in only 1.75 million of the three million clients expected, leading many to rethink their strategies. The low number of sign ups is also forcing mergers, expected to reduce the number to 15 funds.
SYDNEY-A shockingly graphic ad created Down Under swept the International Advertising Festival at Cannes as a small agency, Andromeda, picked up the Grand Prix in the press and poster category for its Kadu jeans ad showing a gutted shark.
Nearly as shocking to the agency community was the demise of the Foote Cone & Belding name in Australia with FCB's public presence reduced to its newly acquired subsidiary, Magnus Nankervis & Curl/FCB in Sydney, and Thompson White/FCB in Melbourne.
SAO PAULO-Brazil changed its entire currency in 1994 to introduce the inflation-fighting real in June, and dozens of ad campaigns scrambled to explain the new currency to consumers. The "real plan" not only accomplished its intent-it deflated inflation from 80% a month to 4%-it also singlehandedly elected its architect, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, to the country's presidency.
Advertising got a $100 million shot in the arm when Brazilian marketers saluted the country's World Cup title victory.
TORONTO-The biggest ad battle was fought over residential long-distance service, a new $3 billion market opened up in 1994. U.S. Sprint, Bell Canada and Unitel dialed for dollars among Canadian consumers, shelling out $200 million in high-profile TV, print, direct mail and promotion efforts.
PRAGUE-The first national privately run TV station, U.S. and Czech-backed Nova TV, opened up ad opportunities by offering far more ad time than massive state-run Czech TV. Even with far less resources, Nova snatched away viewers.
CAIRO-McDonald's opening of its first two restaurants in October was by far the most celebrated business event, giving consumers and local agencies a taste of marketing strategies rarely seen here. In addition to TV, newspaper and magazine ads, the media blitz included live concerts, leading up to the debut of Ronald McDonald next year.
The last blow to France's formerly shady media buying industry hit in mid-February when Conseil de Concurrence-France's competition watchdog-levied fines totaling $9.6 million on 23 media groups for unfair or underhanded business practices.
This summer the loi Evin was scaled back. Formerly limiting liquor advertising to adult magazines and certain hours on the radio, the law now gives those media more flexibility and frees up outdoor advertising for alcohol.
Disneyland Paris and independent French agency BDDP were bailed out financially. By May, BDDP reached agreement with institutional investors to reduce its $245 million debt by 75% to $56 million in a debt-for-equity swap. Just one month later, Disneyland Paris was rescued from closure when parent Euro Disney SCA negotiated a $2.28 billion financial restructuring.
DUESSELDORF-Burda's newsmagazine Focus became a roaring success in 1994, overtaking the hallowed 47-year-old Der Spiegel in ad pages, if not in revenues, so far.
In its first 10 months, Focus sold 4,658 ads versus Der Spiegel's 4,355 and by yearend, the gap may have widened. Focus' circulation of 605,919 is also closing in on Der Spiegel's 1.1 million.
HONG KONG-As the territory prepared for its return to China in 1997, Cathay Pacific sought to change its image to become less British in Asian consumers' minds.
Hong Kong remained the shining star as a regional center for satellite TV. But there were shakeups among two Star TV tenants. MTV left its berth on Star and the BBC World News Service's reach was curtailed.
BOMBAY-During the year, foreign investments totaling $2.9 billion were approved by the government as part of its liberalization spree. Multinationals new in the market included Kellogg, Cadbury Schweppes, Sony, General Motors and Goldstar.
Media continued to fragment at record pace, forcing government-run TV Doordarshan into offering better ad deals and programming.
JERUSALEM-The country's first commercial TV station started up, ending its first full year of service, bringing in $90 million in ad revenues.
In May, the signing of the peace agreement formalizing Palestinian self rule in Gaza and Jericho, along with the October peace agreement with Jordan, confirmed Israel as a ripe area for economic development and travel marketing. International companies entering as a result of the peace include Del Monte, Howard Johnson, Days Inn, Burger King, Kobs & Draft, Office Depot, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers.
ROME-Media mogul Silvio Berlusconi became prime minister in May after his Forza Italia movement-aided by his ownership of Italy's three private national TV channels-swept into power. He remains under fire, however, for not selling his media holdings. Italy's corruption scandal caught up with Mr. Berlusconi in November, when he was scheduled to be questioned by Milan magistrates in connection with purported bribery of tax officials by Finivest executives.
TOKYO-The marketing picture brightened as the country at last started to pull out of recession.
But the recession gave rise to a new phenomenon-discounting. Consumers are flocking to discount stores at such a rate that Daiei supermarket Chairman Isao Nakauchi estimates as many as half of Japan's 1.5 million full-price retail shops will shutter by 2010.
Ford created a sensation with the introduction of its Mustang, handled by J. Walter Thompson. Within the first three weeks of the car's debut, Ford sold 865 cars, more than one-third of its target of 2,500 for the year.
MEXICO CITY-Political instability in the runup to the August presidential elections beginning with an uprising in the state of Chiapas, caused many marketers to put spending plans on hold. The North American Free Trade Agreement gave rise to several new developments, particularly the influx of auto imports.
Mexico's retail revolution took off as Cifra broadened its alliance with Wal-Mart. Kmart opened its first superstore in Mexico.
New options in media surfaced as TV Azteca, a venture with ABC, challenge state-owned Televisa.
MOSCOW-Lured by a $1 million per week ad campaign-the country's largest ever-millions of Russians put their savings into the MMM investment fund after TV and print ads promised returns of up to 3,000%. Depicting simple Russian workers who get rich on their MMM investments, the ads convinced many Russians to spend their last rubles.
As a result of the pyramid scheme's collapse, the MMM scandal has given the government, about to take the country's first ad law to Parliament, fuel for a case for ad industry state control.
Ironically, MMM's President Sergei Mavrodi has just been elected to Parliament.
JOHANNESBURG-The country's first all-race elections April 26-28 presented political advertisers the challenge of selling the unfamiliar concept of non-racial democracy to the country's 32 million newly enfranchised blacks and 5 million whites relinquishing centuries of exclusive power. The elections also set off a wave of peace related advertising for dozens of marketers.
SEOUL-The fiercest-and highest spending-marketing war in South Korea was among three local breweries: Oriental Brewery, Chosun and Jinro-Coors. Ad spending frothed over at $6 million during the month of March alone as market leader Oriental Brewery fought off its first real competition.
Helped by the strong yen, Korea's auto exports enjoyed an unprecedented boom, jumping more than 30% to $2.95 billion during the first eight months of this year.
MADRID-The ongoing recession and economic difficulties were behind several agency reviews including SEAT's long-running agency search for its $200 million account among six shops. This fall, SEAT chose Casadevall Pedreno & PRG for creative and the Ayer network for media.
STOCKHOLM-Absolut vodka switched distributors, moving in February to Seagram on a worldwide basis. The changeover left former distributor Grand Metropolitan's IDV to seek-and find-a new vodka brand. But Grand Met is distributing the new brand, Russia's Stolichnaya, only in the U.S.
LONDON-Procter & Gamble first tried to persuade Unilever not to roll out a new stain-fighting detergent this spring across Europe, then attacked the new Power brand market-by-market for allegedly rotting clothes.
By this fall, P&G's motives for opposing the new brand on the grounds that it would harm the detergent industry began to look a little less pure: P&G rolled out its own stain-fighting innovation with Ariel Future.
Saatchi & Saatchi won the $60 million introductory campaign for the new U.K. lottery-the nation's largest ever-started in November.
England and France were finally linked by the opening of Eurotunnel, but the start of Le Shuttle (carrying cars and their drivers across the Channel) and Eurostar, (city-to-city train service linking London with Paris and Brussels) was delayed repeatedly.
Eurostar finally opened Nov. 14. Regular Le Shuttle service was expected by yearend.
HO CHI MINH CITY-Ad spending quadrupled this year to an estimated $70 million after Washington lifted its trade embargo in February. Coke and Pepsi engaged in a competitive circus that saw huge inflatable plastic Coke bottles festooning Hanoi's staid colonial-era opera house and Pepsi handing out free cans of product here on the streets.