GERMAN INSURER TAPS INITIATIVE FOR GLOBAL PUSH

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[munich] Germany's largest insurance company, Allianz Versicherungs-Aktiengesellschaft, named Initiative Media Worldwide to handle media for a $59 million global corporate campaign. Initiative is the media specialist allied with Ammirati Puris Lintas. Its Hamburg office will be lead agency on the new campaign, which will break this spring in 27 countries. About 70% of the budget will be spent in Europe, though the campaign also will reach Asia and South America. Allianz is active in 60 countries. Initiative Media has worked for Allianz for 25 years in Germany.

Fiat awards Burnett more work in Brazil

[sao paulo] Fiat awarded Leo Burnett Co. a new assignment coordinating work across 10 Brazilian regions. The Italian carmaker previously worked with local shops. Burnett already handled all national branding and promotional advertising for Fiat, plus regional promotions.

Luxury carmaker Bentley runs int'l ads

[london] Bentley Motor Cars, the luxury car brand acquired by Volkswagen last year, is launching a $1.6 million print campaign in the U.S., Germany and the U.K. BMP DDB, which has created advertising for VW, was named Bentley's agency of record. BMP OMD handles media buying for the print campaign.

Sony division unifies biz-to-biz at Publicis

[paris] Sony Corp.'s broadcast and professional products division consolidated the bulk of its European business-to-business work with Publicis Technology. Local markets retain the option of working with their existing local agencies, though some have already opted for Publicis. Publicis Technology Worldwide President Alex Letts said the business-to-business sector lends itself to centralization: "Pan-European brands are often more relevant for business-to-business brands where, regardless of geography, business benefits are more consistent and more rational than in consumer goods."

Fred Perry sportswear taps start-up Spirit

[london] Sportswear marketer Fred Perry awarded start-up Spirit Advertising creative for its pan-European image account. The budget is estimated to be more than $3.4 million. Media buying remains at AMS. This is the first time Fred Perry has appointed one agency across several countries to provide a single creative direction. Previously, it used London agency Mosquito for advertising in the U.K. and other local agencies appointed by its distributors in Spain and Germany, running disparate campaigns.

Hugo Boss opens first store in Africa

[metzingen, germany] Hugo Boss opened a shop in Johannesburg, its first in Africa. "Our goal is to have the Boss brand available in all international cities," said Hugo Boss Vice Chairman Bruno Saelzer. Last year, Hugo Boss opened new stores in Antwerp, Belgium; Athens; Copenhagen; Dubai; Helsinki; Oslo; and Warsaw, bringing its total to 245 shops in 47 countries.

Cannes ad festival creates media category

[cannes] The International Advertising Festival is adding media as a new category at this year's festival, set for June 21-26. Paul Woolmington, president-media operations of Young & Rubicam and its Media Edge unit, will be the chairman of the first Media Lions jury. The Cannes organizers originally planned to create a separate festival for media.

Octagon scraps project with ISL, tennis ass'n

[london] Octagon, the sports marketing arm of Interpublic Group of Cos., pulled out of its joint project with ISL to market and sell international sponsorships and TV rights to an "elite" series of tournaments run by the Association of Tennis Professionals. Octagon had a falling out with the ATP over how much revenue it would guarantee to generate from commercial rights to the Super 9 "elite" tournaments and the world championships. Octagon offered a guarantee of $1 billion over 10 years but said the ATP and the 10 top tournaments made it clear they were looking for bigger guarantees. Lucerne-based ISL said it regretted Octagon's withdrawal but that it will go ahead with the project on its own.

Blockbuster enters Hong Kong via KPS

[hong kong] Blockbuster Entertainment Group took over the assets of KPS Retail Stores, the largest video rental chain in Hong Kong before going into receivership last year. Blockbuster will conduct its new operations from 15 of the former KPS store locations, said Nigel Travis, president of retail worldwide operations. The unit of Viacom has about 6,000 stores in the U.S. and 25 other countries.

Wieden London chief Perry to exit agency

[london] The managing director of Wieden & Kennedy here has quit, less than a year after the office opened and in the midst of a $25.5 million account pitch. Mike Perry leaves at the end of the month to become a "flexi-worker," giving himself time for personal ambitions, including writing a screenplay. "I love Wieden & Kennedy, I adore the people and I've really enjoyed my year," Mr. Perry said, adding that he won't be joining another agency. He was previously managing director of Simons Palmer Clemmow Johnson, since merged into TBWA/GGT Simons Palmer. A shortlist for a replacement is thought to be down to two, with a successor expected to be in place by the time Mr. Perry leaves. His exit comes as the London agency is embroiled in its biggest-ever pitch, for British Telecom's estimated $25.5 million youth account. It also follows the departures of Joint Creative Director Nick GIll to Bartle Bogle Hegarty and Planning Director Alison Hoad to Lowe Howard-Spink.

Lowe Group forms its first board

[london] Lowe Group reshaped top management at Lowe & Partners Worldwide, its main advertising arm, to create a more formal corporate structure to carry the network's global ambitions. Lowe & Partners now has a board for the first time, consisting of Frank Lowe, chairman-chief executive; Lee Garfinkel, chairman-CEO, Lowe & Partners USA; Joe Gilbride, chief financial officer; Adrian Holmes, chief creative officer, Lowe & Partners Worldwide (currently chief creative officer of Lowe & Partners Europe); and Jerry Judge, president, Lowe & Partners Worldwide (currently chief executive, Lowe & Partners Europe). Lowe Group Chairman-Chief Executive Frank Lowe said all Lowe companies have until now been run by a small headquarters group, despite the agency having grown since its inception in 1981 into a $4 billion-billing organization with 90 offices in 38 countries. A new Worldwide Operations Committee, consisting of key players from individual agencies and the regions, will be established in the near future.

Wright heads European marketing for Calvin Klein

[london] Unilever-owned Calvin Klein Cosmetics Co. appointed Sarah Wright to the new post of European marketing director as part of a management reshuffling. Succeeding Ms. Wright as U.K. marketing manager is Hilary Taylor, who has held various sales positions within the marketer. Ms. Wright will report to Shelley Smyth, who was promoted to VP-marketing and sales development, Europe, from U.K. affiliate director last October. Succeeding Ms. Smyth is Hilary Dart, who joins from department store Selfridges, where she was a senior buyer of cosmetics.

Canadian media shop joins forces with Carat

[toronto] David Cairns & Co. formed an alliance with $8 billion media-buying giant Carat. This is the second alliance Carat has recently formed in Canada. Last June, it struck an alliance with Strategem, Montreal, to form Carat Strategem. Carat's combined presence with Cairns and Strategem now makes it one of the top 10 media agencies in Canada. The 5-year-old Cairns has billings of about $80 million; it will be renamed Carat Cairns.

Optimum Media opens office in Singapore

[singapore] Omnicom Group's Optimum Media Direction officially opened its office here following a merger of the media departments of fellow Omnicom agencies DDB Needham Worldwide, BBDO Worldwide and TBWA Worldwide. The media planning and buying agency is staffed with senior members of each agency under the direction of Kate Stephenson, managing director of OMD in Southeast Asia.

Discovery Networks reaches Mexican schools

[mexico city] The Latin American Institute for Educational Communications signed an agreement with Discovery Networks Latin America to make its Discovery Kids channel available in 26,000 schools across Mexico. The signal is distributed via the Educational Satellite Television Network, an educational resource provided as a public service by the Mexican Ministry of Education. Discovery Kids is the first channel to be telecast in its entirety by the state service. Teachers at schools serviced by Edusat will be free to use the content of Discovery Kids as

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