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Monster.com, Priceline tap agencies for Europe

[london] Two dot-coms well-known to U.S. Internet users made agency assignments for their pushes into Europe:

* Jobs site Monster.com awarded its European launch business to Zenith Media Worldwide. Zenith sibling agency Saatchi & Saatchi handles creative. The total budget is estimated at $40 million. Saatchi currently is running a campaign in Monster.com's key European markets -- Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the U.K.

* Priceline.com placed its estimated $20 million European launch account at Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide. The agency initially will promote the service in the U.K. and Germany, though other markets may follow, said Lowe Lintas CEO Paul Hammersley. Priceline will have a "soft" launch this month, with a multimedia campaign breaking early next year, Mr. Hammersley said. Priceline's $90 million U.S. account is handled by Lowe Lintas sibling Hill, Holliday, New York.

Chanel consolidates work at Media Edge

[paris] Chanel further consolidated its strategic media planning and buying business into Young & Rubicam's Media Edge. The global business, covering 24 countries, will be handled at the agency's offices here and in New York. Media Edge already handles Chanel in the U.S. and the U.K. The assignment covers three divisions -- fragrance and beauty, fashion and accessories, and watches and fine jewelry.

Mercedes Media shifts to Azaguys in So. Africa

[johannesburg] Mercedes-Benz South Africa Media will shift its estimated $3 million planning and buying account to Azaguys, a small full-service agency in the FCB Worldwide stable, from Leo Burnett Worldwide, its long-standing creative agency. Azaguys, which already handles creative and media for sibling carmaker Chrysler in South Africa, gained the Mercedes account because it's the local representative of the DaimlerChrysler Media Alliance. Separately, Mercedes has launched two new models, the small A-Class and the larger C-Class, with advertising created by Burnett.

Starbucks heats up European expansion

[duesseldorf] Starbucks Coffee Co. is expanding in continental Europe via a joint venture with Swiss catering company Passaggio Holding. The joint company, Swiss-Star Holding, expects to open between 10 and 15 Starbucks coffee shops by March in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. The long-term target is 140 shops. Effact, Zurich, Passaggio's house agency, will handle initial advertising. Switzerland will be a test for other major markets such as France, Germany and Italy. Starbucks already has 150 shops in the U.K., and 3,300 outlets worldwide.

French bookseller FNAC signs Ogilvy for account

[paris] FNAC, France's leading bookseller and music vendor, moved its estimated $15 million account to Ogilvy & Mather from Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide. Ogilvy won the business after a final pitch against Leo Burnett Co. DDB, which had the FNAC account for nine years, was eliminated in the first round. The move follows the decision by Pinault-Printemps-Redoute Group, owner of the FNAC and a host of other retail companies, to move its estimated $90 million media planning account to Publicis-owned Optimedia from Omnicom-owned Optimum Media Direction Worldwide. The decision to drop OMD came after a hard-fought pitch that also included WPP Group's MindShare. PPR Group had relied on DDB for most of its advertising since the early 1990s, while sibling agency OMD has handled the group's consolidated media buying over the same period.

Unilever-Bestfoods deal to cut some brands adrift

[london] Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, Mother and J. Walter Thompson Co. are among agencies that will see their brand assignments cut adrift in the fallout of Unilever's proposed merger with Bestfoods. The European Commission has ruled the transaction may proceed only if the Anglo-Dutch marketer sells various brands to avoid "overlap issues." Those brands are Batchelors sauces and noodles in the U.K.; Oxo and Royco in Europe; Bla Band spreads in Denmark, Finland and Sweden; McDonnells sauces in Ireland; and Bestfoods' Lesieur mayonnaise and salad dressings in France. Combined revenue is about $435 million. Shedding some national brands and replacing them with international brands from Bestfoods is part of Unilever's stated focus on fewer, larger brands.

Italy bank seeks interest from Sharon Stone ads

[rome] Hollywood star Sharon Stone is the latest personality to appear in an Italian ad campaign, in this instance for virtual bank Banca 121, part of the Monte dei Paschi Siena Group, Europe's oldest banking group. Created by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Milan, the first commercial in the campaign shows Ms. Stone being pursued by paparazzi and then escaping with the help of the Banca 121 manager. Print ads will feature Ms. Stone as a day stock trader using her PC to access her accounts. An official close to the campaign estimated that spending runs into "several million" dollars. Ms. Stone joins a list of famous personalities -- including Woody Allen, Marlon Brando, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford and former South African President Nelson Mandela -- who have appeared in Italian ads. The trend began in 1996, when Milan's Armando Testa first used Ms. Stone and model Naomi Campbell to promote sparkling wines.

Machu Picchu ad mishap stirs up concern in Peru

[lima] Peru's National Institute of Culture is evaluating new norms to protect the country's archaeological heritage after a mishap during the filming of a J. Walter Thompson beer commercial damaged a 500-year-old stone sundial at Machu Picchu (AA, Sept. 18). While the film crew had permission from the local branch of the cultural institute to film at Machu Picchu, Luis Repetto, the institute's director, said the authorization should never have been granted. Seven articles in the Peruvian penal code relate to crimes against cultural heritage, but Mr. Repetto said that regulations aren't enough to protect monuments. "These people want to use Peru to sell their magazines or make millions of dollars from advertising when shows are aired. What does Peru get from this? Maybe a few more tourists, but that's it. We need to regulate the use of images," Mr. Repetto urged. The country made roughly $1 billion from tourism last year, about the same amount it earned as the world's eighth-largest gold exporter. The Inca mountain citadel is Peru's principal tourist attraction.

Chinese-language edition of `eCompany Now' debuts

[hong kong] Time Inc. and the Fortune Group this month launch a Chinese-language edition of eCompany Now, their e-business magazine. The new magazine, titled eCompany Now China, will be published six times a year with Hong Kong publishing company CCI Asia-Pacific, which also publishes Fortune China and Time Digest, an English-Chinese version of Time for young Chinese professionals. The e-business magazine's initial controlled rate base is 30,000. Advertisers so far include Audi, Canon, China Eastern Airlines, Cisco Systems, Motorola Semiconductor, Sony Corp., Toshiba and Volkswagen.

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