LENDING TREE PLANTS $50 MIL ACC'T AT MULLEN

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Lending Tree, an online consumer loan referral site, awarded its $50 million account to Mullen, Wenham, Mass. Frankfurt Balkind Partners, New York, previously handled. AAR/Bob Wolf Partners, New York and Los Angeles, handled the review for the site (lendingtree.com).

Baskin-Robbins' $15 mil acc't melts at Deutsch

Baskin-Robbins USA and Deutsch, Marina del Rey, Calif., mutually decided to part ways. Deutsch won the estimated $15 million account for the ice cream chain, a division of Allied Domecq Retailing USA, in November 1997. No review is expected. The account was formerly at D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Los Angeles.

American Airlines seeks black-owned agency

American Airlines plans to hire by next February an African-American owned shop as national agency of record for that segment of the population. American said it has assembled a team of African-American owned companies to assist in the selection process. The team will be led by Advantage Marketing Group, Irving, Texas.

DMA ejects 8 members over 'Privacy Promise'

The Direct Marketing Association board voted to expel eight association members for refusing to comply with the group's "Privacy Promise to American Consumers." They are the first to be ejected under the privacy policy, which was approved two years ago and took effect July 1. The board, meeting last week at the DMA's annual conference in Toronto, wouldn't identify the eight members. The DMA plans to name them in mid-November. The privacy policy requires companies to give consumers a chance to opt out of direct marketing campaigns, honor name-removal requests, maintain an in-house suppression system, notify consumers about contact data transfer processes and use the association's name-removal systems. More than 99% of DMA members that market directly to consumers have complied with the policy, said Stephen Altobelli, director of public affairs.

Financially hit Lois/USA files for Chapter 11

After weeks of speculation, Lois/USA filed for Chapter 11 protection in federal bankruptcy court in New York on Oct. 20. The New York-based holding company had liabilities of almost $72 million and assets of $57 million, according to published reports. A quarterly statement said that at the end of June, Lois' accounts receivable and expenditures billable to clients had decreased by $8.4 million, reflecting a decline in revenue and reduction in clients' ad spending. At the time, Lois said it believed cash flow from existing operations as well as loans would allow it to meet financial obligations. One day before the Chapter 11 filing, Lois agreed to sell its Fogarty, Klein & Partners unit back to five former shareholders for about $18.8 million, an agreement that releases Lois of money it owed for its December 1997 purchase of the Houston agency.

Sagging Cutty Sark readies magazine push

Cutty Sark hopes a new ad campaign hitting in December magazines will reverse an almost two-decade sales slide. The blended scotch, which now is being marketed by Skyy Spirits, will target younger men with the campaign created by Lambesis, Del Mar, Calif. Cutty Sark sold 285,000 cases last year, down from 1.8 million in 1980, according to Impact. Ad spending is uncertain, but Skyy Spirits -- of superpremium vodka fame -- previously had said it would spend $10 million to promote Cutty Sark. Skyy had used Lambesis for contract work.

Banana Republic touts cachet of cashmere

The Gap Inc.'s Banana Republic last week got an early start on its holiday advertising with a TV campaign focusing on cashmere products. The advertising, developed in-house, also will include a push for the 300-store specialty chain's new online selling site (bananarepublic.com). Fourth-quarter spending is expected to exceed last year's $12 million.

FCB's Bess heading to N.Y. and Y&R post

Ron Bess, 53, is leaving FCB Worldwide, Chicago, for Young & Rubicam New York, where he's expected to become chairman-CEO of Y&R's Diversified Communications Group, which encompasses its non-advertising companies. Mr. Bess, president of FCB, has been with that agency since 1996, when it acquired Bayer Bess Vanderwarker, Chicago. FCB wouldn't comment, but executives close to the situation said Mr. Bess' position won't be filled. In September, FCB parent True North Communications reorganized and moved much of Bozell Worldwide's operations into FCB. It also named Kelly O'Dea co-president along with Mr. Bess and Harry Reid. Mr. Bess couldn't be reached for comment.

Veteran Conde Nast exec Viscardi Johnston resigns

Catherine Viscardi Johnston, exec VP-sales and marketing at Conde Nast Publications, resigned from the position she has held since August 1997. President-CEO Steven T. Florio said of the resignation: "While we regret Cathy's departure, we are all respectful of her desire for more personal time and of the chance for her to explore other career opportunities." Ms. Viscardi Johnston has been with the company since 1977, with the exception of a two-year absence from 1993-95 when she was New York Magazine's ad director and then publisher of Mirabella. Earlier in her career, Ms. Viscardi Johnston worked for House & Garden, GQ, Self and Architectural Digest. After returning to Conde Nast in '95, she served as publisher of Mademoiselle before being named senior VP-group sales and marketing in 1996.

Daily, Sunday newspaper readership slips a bit: NAA

Newspaper readership in the top 50 U.S. markets slipped a little in the fall 1999 Competitive Media Index of the Newspaper Association of America. The analysis of Scarborough Research data shows that 56.9% of adults in the top 50 markets read a newspaper daily and 66.9% read a Sunday paper. The spring CMI showed daily readership at 57.9% and Sunday at 67.8%. The NAA also found that online users, particularly online newspaper readers, remain strong consumers of print. The NAA's "Synergize for Success" report on online usage, to be published this fall, showed that among all Internet users in the top 50 markets, 61% read a daily newspaper in print and 74% read one on Sunday. Online newsreaders also showed strong print readership. Of consumers who looked at an online paper in the past six months, 67% also read a printed daily newspaper and 78% read the

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