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Trio of agencies vie for $30 mil in Caltex work

[singapore] Global petroleum company Caltex Corp. narrowed the list of agencies for its estimated $30 million regional business to incumbent TBWA Worldwide, McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Dentsu, Young & Rubicam. The previous round, involving seven agencies, consisted of a credentials pitch overseen by consultant A.T. Kearney. A smaller member of the so-called Big 5 global petroleum companies, Caltex is owned equally by U.S. energy companies Texaco and Chevron. In 1999, Caltex moved its headquarters to Singapore, where it is the country's largest private company.

New telco Cascadent taps CDP for launch

[london] Cascadent, a new global telecom business backed by a number of leading international information technology companies, assigned its estimated $15 million launch campaign to Dentsu's CDP. The agency will handle the business alongside marketing consultancy Crossing O'Sullivan and other Dentsu agencies in New York and Tokyo. "The CDP-Dentsu team demonstrated an immediate understanding of what we were trying to do, and offered a flexible and international capability," said Graham Butler, VP of Cascadent. Supported by telecom suppliers such as Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard Co., Orabel and Science Dynamics, Cascadent will provide businesses with a single broadband access point to voice, data, video and Internet services.

Web stumbles in China while it soars in Japan

[hong kong] The dot-com community in China is being hit by layoffs, losses and a more cautious investment environment, even as ad spending in the medium booms in nearby Japan. Leading Chinese portal Renren Media (renren.com) laid off staff last week, with the marketing department among those hard hit. Positions were added in the client service and sales departments. Other rivals also have laid off staff in recent weeks. China's three biggest portals -- Sina.com, Sohu.com and Netease.com -- suffered major losses in the last quarter. And Asia experienced its first big dot-com failure when Chinese Books Cyberstore (chinesebooks.net) collapsed last month, even though the Internet is growing rapidly in China. Heavy expenses for content and acquisitions, stiff competition, poor fiscal control, and a lack of serious online ad spending are blamed for the problems. Meanwhile in Japan, Internet advertising is expected to double this year, reaching $463 million. Fees for Internet ads have risen 20% to 50% in the past year. More than 20 million Japanese now access the Internet, while the number of Chinese Internet users nearly doubled to 17 million in the first half of this year.

FCB acquires control of South African shop

[johannesburg] FCB South Africa acquired a controlling interest in Azaguys, a local agency with billings of about $14 million, from founder and Chairman Sipho Luthuli. FCB helped establish Azaguys as a "black empowerment" agency two years ago when it financed the agency's purchase by Mr. Luthuli and his partner, Baker Maseko, in return for a 26% equity stake. Mr. Maseko later left the company. Now Mr. Luthuli, who's leaving the ad business, has sold the other 74% to FCB, which is searching for a new black investor and a new black chairman. The agency's biggest account is DaimlerChrysler, which it acquired as a result of the FCB-Bozell merger two years ago and the closure of Bozell's South African affiliate. Mr. Luthuli, a grandnephew of freedom fighter and Nobel Peace Prize winner Chief Albert Luthuli, chaired the Association of Advertising Agencies' committee that produced a "transformation charter" in March committing members to 40% black employment by 2004. His move is seen as a blow to the industry's affirmative action programs. Azaguys was FCB South Africa's showcase black advancement agency, though its CEO is white. FCB Worldwide holds 24% of FCB South Africa.

P&G sells off Drene in Venezuelan market

[caracas] Procter & Gamble Co. sold its popular local shampoo brand Drene for $8 million to Fisa Laboratories of the Cisneros Group, a multinational marketing, telecom and media conglomerate. P&G's decision to divest itself of the brand, sold only in Venezuela, follows the multinational giant's strategy of concentrating its marketing efforts on global brands, said Jose Rafael Rivas, P&G director of corporate affairs. With more than 40 years in the Venezuelan market, Drene is one of the brands with highest recall and loyalty among the country's consumers.

Lipton wants to heat up Egypt's taste for iced tea

[cairo] Unilever Egypt is teaming up with Al Ahram Beverages to pitch Lipton iced tea to a market where tea -- served hot -- is the national drink. "It's a provocative concept, since hot tea is the No. 1 beverage," said Fatenn Mostafa, CEO of United Beverages Co., the joint venture between Unilever and Al Ahram that will produce and distribute the iced tea. Such a joint venture is a rarity for Unilever, which has signed only two other such partnerships, in the U.S. and Brazil. United Beverages is gearing up for an extensive campaign, including TV and outdoor, to support the September launch. TMI is handling the account. About 40% of the year's roughly $800,000 promotional budget for Lipton is earmarked for product sampling. Lipton tea bags are already available in Egypt.

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