RECESSION SINKS JAPANESE AD AGENCY

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[osaka, japan] Japan's recession has claimed its first major ad agency. After more than a century in business, Mannensha filed for bankruptcy with liabilities of $133 million. Mannensha was Japan's 21st-largest agency, and had revenue of $332 million in the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998, but suffered about a 15% cut in revenue since that time. At the end of the current fiscal year, the company is expected to post a loss of about $3.36 million. Japanese ad agencies felt the pinch of the recession in 1998 as ad spending dipped 3.8% to $48.7 billion, the first dropoff in five years, according to a survey released by Dentsu.

TV soap operas bask in Thailand's woes

[bangkok] Recession means more viewers for soap operas in Thailand, where consumers are reining in their spending -- particularly on entertainment -- and logging more time at home in front of the TV. A minute of prime-time air on a soap opera costs $8,200, compared with $6,000 for a nighttime variety show and $4,900 during news programs. "Soap opera prime time is the most sought after period," said Suphanee Dechaburananon, executive media director at media planning specialist MindShare. Thailand has four free TV channels.

DMB&B wins 4 cheeses from Fromageries Bel

[paris] Fromageries Bel, France's third-largest cheese marketer, awarded D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles the $20 million European account for four of its brands. DMB&B will handle creative and media planning for Apericube, La Vache Qui Rit, Pic & Croc and Sylphide across Europe. DMB&B Europe President Johan Hofstra said Bel's brands are "an institution in France, at the level of Michelin or L'Oreal."

Oneworld airlines launch $15 mil in ads

[london] The first campaign for the Oneworld alliance of airlines launched globally last week. The $15 million print and outdoor push will run for eight weeks across 90 markets, including the U.S., Europe and Asia. The creative strategy was developed by British Airways agency M&C Saatchi, London, and American Airlines shop Temerlin McClain, Dallas. Optimedia handles media. The copy concentrates on the convenience the arrangement brings to passengers when they need to switch from one airline to another within the alliance. Other Oneworld carriers include Canadian Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways and Qantas Airways.

ISL expects tennis deal to be 'sealed' this month

[lucerne] Sports marketing group ISL said negotiations are ongoing with the Association of Tennis Professionals, the governing body for men's tennis, to market and sell international sponsorships and TV rights to its "elite" series of tournaments. An agreement was expected by early this month, but Stephan Brubacher, ISL's senior VP responsible for tennis, said the contract is still being negotiated and that the timing for a deal to be "done, signed and sealed" hasn't slipped and is likely to be at the end of the month. Octagon, the sports marketing arm of Interpublic Group of Cos., New York, was to have run the ATP project jointly with ISL. It pulled out of discussions at the end of January over a disagreement with the ATP on the amount of revenue it would guarantee to be generated from the commercial rights to the Super Nine elite tournaments and the world championships. Octagon had offered a guarantee of $1 billion over 10 years.

Bates to take stake in Indian shop Clarion

[mumbai, india] Bates Worldwide will take an equity stake in Indian ad agency Clarion 18 months after forming an affiliation with the shop. Clarion has notched up growth of 40% in the past year and Bates has "ambitious plans for India," said Kiran Khalap, head of the renamed Bates Clarion. Speculation that Bates also will establish a start-up agency, Bates India, was denied by senior executives at Bates Clarion. It's expected, however, that Bates will start rolling its marketing services and interactive agency brands into the subcontinent.

JWT to acquire Argentine agency Soares Gache

[buenos aires] J. Walter Thompson Co. will buy 100% of Argentine agency Soares Gache in a three-year deal. A price hasn't yet been fixed and is largely dependent on Soares Gache's performance between now and 2001, said members of the executive boards from both agencies.

French Connection touts 'subliminal' message

[london] Fashion retailer French Connection unveiled the latest international campaign in a controversial series from TBWA GGT Simons Palmer, and it takes a swipe at the ad industry. "Subliminal advertising experiment" -- the tagline on print and poster advertising across the U.K. -- is laid out so that the word "sex" can be read vertically. Trevor Beattie, high-profile creative director at the agency, said the ads represent "having a bit of fun at the expense of our own business. Subliminal advertising has had an almost mythical reputation for decades -- we'll be exploiting it to the full." The ads will arrive in New York this month. A TV campaign, in the U.K. at least, is set to follow later this year, with other "cheeky messages" hidden in the text. Media is bought through Manning Gotlieb Media.

Canadian discounter unveils Truly brand

[toronto] Hudson's Bay Co.-owned discounter Zellers launched what it's calling North America's most extensive private-label brand, Truly, as the retailer continues to focus on exclusive brands and target value-conscious mothers. Truly products are rolling out in the discounter's 347 stores, covering three core categories of health and beauty, fashion, and household products. Initial product lines include Truly Baby, Truly Beauty, Truly Casual apparel, Truly Clean, Truly Health vitamins, Truly Natural herbal supplements and Truly Power batteries. Expected later this year: Truly Delicious snacks along with Truly Intimate lingerie and feminine hygiene products. A 30-second TV spot from Ogilvy & Mather focuses on the brand's quality and values messages.

Internet's DoubleClick expands in Europe

[amsterdam] DoubleClick, the U.S.-based Internet ads sales representative group, launched DoubleClick Benelux by taking a 70% stake in NetSales of Almere, Netherlands. The other 30% in the leading Dutch Web sales house is still in the hands of 2PR Holding. DoubleClick has been expanding recently in Europe, last November setting up its first international headquarters in Dublin. The company has 24 offices in 14 countries around the world. DoubleClick said its network is used by more than 2,800 advertisers.

Televisa makes licensing plan for new kids show

[mexico city] Televisa this year will launch a new children's show that it will market as a brand with an accompanying licensing and merchandising strategy. "Serafin, el Angel de la Guarda" ("Serafin, the Guardian Angel") is Televisa's first production to combine live actors with computer animation. The character of Serafin is a computer-generated image that, along with seven other animated characters, will be used as the basis for the merchandising efforts. Hasbro already has been awarded the main toy license. Televisa also plans to produce a sound track and two films on videotape. In addition, it's offering opportunities for product placement in the show.

MTV adds 3 European channels via Sky Digital

[london] MTV Network Europe continues to extend its music brands with the July 1 launch of three 24-hour channels targeted at the U.K. and Ireland. The arrival of MTV Base, MTV Extra and VH1 Classic will create a six-channel MTV multiplex for exclusive transmission on Sky Digital, the digital platform operated by News Corp.'s BSkyB pay-TV group. A European rollout is expected shortly after the

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