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Asks Jeeves asks for new U.K. agency

[london] Internet search engine Ask Jeeves is looking for a new agency to handle its $16 million U.K. business after ending a six-month stint with Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper. The split follows a growing conflict with another Euro RSCG client, Microsoft Corp.-owned search engine msn. "The advertising so far has done a good job in terms of brand awareness," admitted Adrian Cox, recently appointed VP-marketing at Ask Jeeves. "More than 1.7 million unique visitors have been attracted to the site. But we are now looking for a long-term relationship with an agency." Three to four agencies will be shortlisted. The media business, at Mediapolis, isn't affected.

Marks & Spencer selects Rainey as first AOR in U.K.

[london] Marks & Spencer, ending decades of resistance to hiring an agency of record, awarded its U.K. ad business to Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/ Young & Rubicam. Spending in the retailer's biggest market wasn't available, but is reportedly about $45 million. Also pitching were BMP DDB, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and Bartle Bogle Hegarty. The appointment is a concession by Marks & Spencer that it can no longer rely on its reputation for good quality at reasonable prices, and that cutthroat competition from relative newcomers such as The Gap and other multinational chains means Marks & Spencer must promote itself more aggressively. Last year, the troubled retailer worked on a project basis with BMP4 for clothing and housewares, and with Bartle for its first-ever campaign for Christmas food. Marks & Spencer reassigned its French account late last year to two Omnicom Group-controlled Paris agencies, BDDP & Fils and Tequila. DDB Red previously handled. The company has about 700 stores in 20 countries worldwide.

Smart car maker searches for agency

[renningen, germany] DaimlerChrysler-owned Micro Compact Cars shortlisted four agencies to handle a campaign for a new project, widely believed to be the launch of a four-seater Smart car. The contenders are Zurich agency Weber, Hodel, Schmid, the incumbent for the existing tiny two-seater Smart car; Springer & Jacoby, Hamburg, which handles Mercedes-Benz; Scholz & Friends, Berlin, which handles Mercedes-Benz trucks; and BBDO Worldwide-owned KNSK, Slagman, Hamburg. Agency sources say the winner of the assignment could take over the entire Smart car business. Micro Compact Cars spent $22 million on advertising last year in Germany. Micro, a Swatch-Mercedes joint venture, originally launched the Smart car in autumn 1998. The city car is named for an amalgam of the three words -- Swatch, Mercedes and art -- and didn't sport the Mercedes star. The car, now being sold by Mercedes-Benz dealers, is showing signs of a turnaround after a disastrous launch, when it was sold through new Smart dealerships.

BDDP & Fils wins $15 mil Microsoft France account

[paris] Microsoft Corp. awarded its estimated $15 million French business to Omnicom Group-owned BDDP & Fils after a final pitch against the Sales Machine Group, a marketing services agency owned by Havas Advertising. The account was previously handled jointly by the Sales Machine and Havas sibling Euro RSCG Works. The account includes traditional media advertising, a marketing services aspect including promotions and direct marketing, and interactive Internet ads. The first BDDP & Fils work is expected by fall.

Vienna looks for agency to promote tourism

[vienna] The Austrian capital of Vienna shortlisted agencies to pitch for the city's tourism account. Contenders include Euro RSCG Worldwide, Lowe/GGK and Scholz & Friends. The tourism campaign will attempt to counteract the negative publicity surrounding Austria recently, following the government's decision to form a coalition with Jorg Haider's extreme right-wing Freedom Party. Meanwhile, the Austrian Tourism Board is planning a new Internet home page (austria-tourism.at) in English and German, to be used as a countrywide routing system for tourists including accommodation reservations, transportation details and links to Austrian booking systems.

French grocer Carrefour taps Impiric for Web site

[paris] Leading French grocer Carrefour chose Young & Rubicam-owned direct marketing agency Impiric to handle ads for the launch of its online shopping in the greater Paris area. Carrefour, which operates thousands of hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores across France, tested the Ooshop.com venture in provincial areas earlier this year. It now hopes to conquer Paris, France's top market and home to one-sixth of the country's population. Ads will focus on the convenience and simplicity of point-and-click online shopping on the Ooshop.com site. Carrefour currently offers 600 products online; customers can pick up purchases at three central warehouse sites or receive same-day delivery for about $11. Rival grocer Casino has been testing its online shopping service (cmescourses.fr) in provincial cities since late 1998 and also has begun rolling it out in Paris.

Unilever finds new outlet: Indian vegetable vendors

[bombay] Hindustan Lever is piggybacking on neighborhood sabjiwallah -- street vegetable vendors -- to sell new, smaller sachets of tomato puree. The company is testing the concept in New Delhi. Unilever is aiming to attract consumers previously put off by the product's price. The smaller-size packs will cost no more than making the puree from scratch at home, the company said. The technique also gives Hindustan Lever's puree distribution outside conventional retailers. Next up: tomato puree with condiments added for use as pizza bases.

JWT seeks partner for Vietnamese venture

[ho chi minh city] J. Walter Thompson Co. is looking for a local partner to set up an advertising joint venture in Vietnam, a company representative said. "Ideally, we would like to have 100% control, but as yet the law won't allow it," said Hong Anh, commercial director at JWT's office here. Ever since Saatchi & Saatchi was awarded joint venture status in a pilot setup last year, other agencies have been eager to follow suit, with JWT reckoned to be among those in the vanguard for future efforts. So far, almost all of the 19 international ad agencies operating in Vietnam -- including JWT, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Asatsu -- have been restricted to representative-office status. JWT Vietnam handles accounts for clients including Ford Motor Co., Suzuki Motors, Unilever and domestic company Saigon Cosmetics. Unilever was Vietnam's top advertiser last year, spending about $14 million.

Adidas-Salomon inks deal with SportsLine.com

[herzogenaurach, germany] Adidas-Salomon signed a global co-marketing deal with Internet sports media company SportsLine.com and its European subsidiary, Sports.com. The partners will develop co-marketing activities around real and virtual sporting events, and create other "entertainment possibilities." The agreement initially will cover the U.S. and Europe before expanding to Asia. Adidas-Salomon also has brokered deals with select retailers in Europe and the U.S. that will sell the Adidas brand via the Internet as well as through their conventional outlets. In addition, Adidas-Salomon has created its own online stores, thestore.adidas.com in the U.S. and adidas.com/thestore in Europe.

Wal-Mart forms team to head German effort

[wupperstal, germany] Wal-Mart Stores named a five-person management team for its German operation. Heading the team is Allan Leighton, CEO of Wal-Mart Germany and president of the U.K. supermarket chain Asda Group, now controlled by Wal-Mart. Although appointed last December, Mr. Leighton, 47, now officially takes the helm in Germany, succeeding Ron Tiarks, CEO of Wal-Mart Germany since early 1998. Mr. Tiarks is returning to the U.S. for a new role in the company. Mr. Leighton continues as president of Asda. He will be supported in Germany by Chief Operating Officer Volker Barth, 41; Tony DeNunzio, 40, from Asda, who will be chief financial officer at Wal-Mart Germany; Ian McLeod, 41, who will be head of merchandise and marketing; and Torsten Alfes, 38, who's responsible for human resources and is taking on the additional responsibilities of legal affairs, public relations, organization and supply buying.

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