MERCEDES YANKS $100 MIL ACCOUNT FROM LOWE

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DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz of North America pulled its $100 million account, as expected, from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York. Mercedes executives cited problems with Lowe's management, as well as the potential conflicts with General Motors Corp.'s business at sister Interpublic shops. Lowe responded in a statement that it was "appalled" Mercedes would pull the account. Executives at the car marketer said they will begin discussions with True North Communications, Chicago, and Omnicom Group, New York, both of which own DaimlerChrysler roster agencies, to evaluate the possibilities of moving the account to a TN or Omnicom shop. Those executives added there is a "possibility of a full-blown review."

Canon hands Starcom $100 mil in media

Canon USA awarded Starcom Media Services, a unit of Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, its $100 million media agency of record account. SFM Media Corp., New York, and Grey Advertising's MediaCom previously handled. The win continues a string for Starcom; since October, it has won more than $600 million in media spending.

Havas posts billings of $6.56 bil; profits up 50%

Havas Advertising, the Paris-based holding company for Euro RSCG Worldwide, said it had 1998 billings of $6.56 billion and estimated gross income of $983 million, up 11% from '97. The U.S. remains the group's biggest market, accounting for 31.5% of total billings. Profits were up 50% to about $69 million.

Clairol's Nice 'N Easy moves to Kaplan Thaler

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Clairol unit moved its Nice 'N Easy brand to Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, from Intuition Group without a review.Spending wasn't disclosed, but Clairol allocated $21 million on Nice 'N Easy from January through November 1998, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Kaplan Thaler also handles Clairol's Daily Defense and Aussie haircare and Herbal Essences shampoo and body wash. WPP Group formed Intuition to isolate the Clairol business at J. Walter Thompson USA; Intuition retains other Clairol hair coloring brands.

DTC drug advertising tops $1 bil through Nov. '98

Direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs for 1998 hit $1.2 billion through November, according to IMS Health. The top DTC spenders invested 44% more in advertising to consumers than in reaching physicians, $665 million vs. $462 million. Of the top 10 DTC spenders, six invested more than half their total promotional budgets to reach consumers. The top-spending brand was Schering-Plough Corp.'s Claritin, with a $182.9 million DTC investment through November, via WPP Group's CommonHealth USA, Parsippany, N.J. Claritin spending was more than double that of the same period the previous year. Professional promotion for Claritin also increased, by a more moderate 18%. Claritin's total promotional investment grew 96% during the period, IMS noted.

Print media must track results: P&G's Wehling

Print media must provide more detailed audience measurements and create more synergies with other outlets to remain competitive, Procter & Gamble Co. Senior VP-Global Marketing Robert Wehling said at a luncheon held by the Chicago Magazine Association. While noting that P&G's print spending has grown by a third since 1996, Mr. Wehling said the magazine industry faces four key challenges: to measure print's contribution to short-term sales; to deepen research into audience accumulation; to demonstrate how print can work with instead of against other media; and to find ways to work with the Internet.

P&G's Tide intensifies war against bacteria

Procter & Gamble Co. today will open a new front in the anti-bacterial consumer product race, with a TV and print campaign positioning Tide With Bleach as "sanitizing" laundry by killing 99.9% of bacteria on clothes. Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, handles. P&G reformulated the "patented oxygen bleaching system" in the product as part of the repositioning.

Nike pulls TV ad showing skater vs. speeding train

Nike is dropping a controversial commercial for its new Alpha project apparel line after receiving a complaint from U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio). The spot, created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, is a fantasy about an in-line skater who's trying to outrace and cross in front of a speeding train. A Nike spokesman said the spot ended its run last week but also added Nike had already planned to remove the ad from the campaign's rotation before the complaint arose.

Larry Flynt backs black-oriented `Code'

Larry Flynt's LFP Inc. is bankrolling Code, a start-up monthly geared toward upscale African-American men. The magazine debuts in July with a guaranteed rate base of 200,000. Mr. Flynt holds the publisher title. Perry Grayson is VP-advertising.

Canada eases dispute on magazine split runs

Canada moved to ease a law designed to protect Canadian magazines from U.S. and foreign competition. Under a new amendment meant to head off a major trade fight with the U.S., Canada's Foreign Publishers Advertising Services Act would come into force only when the Canadian government feels it's needed. Canadian officials say this latest move will give both countries room for compromise and Canada will suggest the matter be taken to the World Trade Organization for a ruling. The bill, still needing approval by Parliament, would ban foreign magazines from carrying Canadian ads in special Canadian editions, known as "split run" titles.

Federated to acquire cataloger Fingerhut

Federated Department Stores agreed to buy catalog company Fingerhut Cos. in a cash and debt transaction valued at about $1.7 billion. The move will bolster

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