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Saatchi & Saatchi had to top last year's talking annual report, featuring an irritating digitized message from CEO Kevin Roberts. So this year's version features pop-up pix of Roberts, a New Zealander, and worldwide CD Bob Isherwood, an Aussie. Dressed identically in black T-shirts and pants, the two appear to be cutouts of 9-inch-high paper dolls. Elsewhere in the annual report are a pop-up world map and pop-up photo of the board. The '98 financials are in there somewhere, too.

Ammirati and Dell talk money

Dell was said last week to be talking compensation with Ammirati, suggesting a deal could be in the works for the business formerly at Goldberg Moser (see related story on Page 24). Dell expects to pick a shop the first week of May. Don't rule out another agency in the review: Bronnercom. Its Strategic Interactive Group does Web work for Dell, and Bronnercom was pushing its BSH direct shop to take over both Goldberg's product ads and the direct assignment now at Rapp Collins. Ammirati's advantage, though, is years of work for Compaq. Which reminds us: In 1991, Compaq slashed prices, sued Dell for nasty comparative ads, began to lose money, fired founder Rod Canion, and hired Ammirati. This year's version: Compaq has slashed prices, is struggling against Dell and fired Canion's successor, Eckhard Pfeiffer. Compaq hasn't fired DDB, which displaced Ammirati last summer.

The winner is . . . not C/D or BBDO

For the first time in five years, top honors at Adclub LA's Beldings didn't go to TBWA/Chiat/Day or BBDO. Winner of best-of-show Sweepstakes and six additional bowls was creative shop Ground Zero. Its oddball ESPN2 "Knowledge" campaign, featuring a troll-like ball of fur with feet, won best of show. Last time big guns C/D and BBDO didn't snare the sweepstakes was 1994, when now-disbanded boutique Stein Robaire Helm took the prize. Who worked on that '94 campaign? Kirk Souder and Court Crandall -- two of the three founders of Ground Zero.

Check in or check out a video

Hilton chief Stephen Bollenbach, speaking to LA's Adclub lunch the day before the Beldings, insisted the hotel industry has not suffered from the onset of teleconferencing. People still like to meet face to face, Bollenbach argues. Question from the audience: With tech moving to virtual reality, won't hotels take a hit? Bollenbach's rebuttal: You musta just come out of watching computer hacker thriller "Matrix" two times. "Go to Blockbuster, rent four videos on Hawaii and turn a sunlamp on your forehead," Bollenbach advised.

Sidewalk . . . martini lunches

Buzz that Microsoft will drop the online city guides of MSN Sidewalk is totally untrue, says Charlotte Guyman, MSN's ad sales chief. Microsoft last year restaged Sidewalk as a national consumer shopping guide, but Guyman says Sidewalk will maintain the local guides it developed earlier in a handful of cities. . . . Steve Rabosky, quoted in London's The Evening Standard about his recent move to Ammirati Puris Lintas' London office: In the past five months, Rabosky says, he's "been on more drinking lunches than in all my 22 years working in LA."

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