RECKITT, BENCKISER TO FORM $5 BIL COMPANY

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Reckitt & Colman said it's merging with Dutch company Benckiser, creating the world's largest marketer of household cleaners, excluding laundry detergents. Reckitt Benckiser will have annual sales of about $5 billion. With the deal, Reckitt & Colman breaks into mass fragrances via Benckiser's Coty brand. Reckitt & Colman brands include French's mustard, Lysol disinfectants and cleaners, Resolve carpet cleaner, Wizard air fresheners and Woolite laundry-care products. McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, handles all but French's, which is at Warwick Baker O'Neill. Reckitt's total ad spending is less than $75 million annually. In the U.S., Benckiser's brands include Calgon, Electrasol, Jet-Dry and Vanish. Total ad spending, mainly behind Electrasol tabs in recent years via Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, has been less than $25 million. The companies didn't say how ad assignments would be affected.

IPG, Outdoor Systems see profits jump in 2nd qtr.

Interpublic Group of Cos., New York, and Outdoor Systems, Phoenix, reported profit increases well into the double digits for the second quarter. Interpublic saw net income rise 17.6% to $139.4 million for the quarter. Gross income was up nearly 10% from a year ago to $1.1 billion; gross income for U.S. operations rose by 13.4%, and international by 6.4%. Interpublic said it gained about $526 million in net new billings during the quarter. For the first half, net income was up 17.9% to $184.2 million and gross income up 10.5% to $2.1 billion. Outdoor Systems reported a 57.9% increase in net income for the quarter to $19.1 million. Net revenue was up 16.3% to $202.1 million. Those results came despite the halt in outdoor tobacco advertising at the end of April. Last year, tobacco ads made up 4.7% of Outdoor Systems' net revenue. The company, preparing to merge with CBS Corp.'s Infinity Broadcasting Corp. (including the TDI outdoor ad unit), said it has been getting ready for the loss of tobacco dollars for several years. For the first half, net income soared 61.5% to $23.9 million as net revenue rose 16.8% to $374.3 million.

Online broker Datek taps Bozell for $80 mil acc't

Datek Online named Bozell Worldwide, New York, first agency of record for its $80 million account. The 3-year-old Datek is one of the nation's top five online brokers, and Bozell will create its first major national campaign. The review began in April with 20 agencies. Bob Wolf/AAR, Los Angeles, handled.

USPS ad salutes cycling champion Armstrong

The U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored Lance Armstrong's Tour de France cycling team, on July 30 launched a page ad in several major papers congratulating the cyclist on his victory. The advertising from Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, noted the postal service sponsorship. The ad ran in The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, and appears today in The Washington Post. The postal service said it's looking at doing a commemorative 50 cent stamp honoring the race.

McGraw-Hill unveils corporate campaign

McGraw-Hill Cos. on July 29 broke its "Questions" corporate campaign, spotlighting the company's broad capabilities and expertise as a global information provider. The campaign, from Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, New York, also tries to create a stronger link between McGraw-Hill and some of its well-known brands. The advertising focuses on three core business areas -- financial services, information and media services, and educational and professional publishing -- and the McGraw-Hill businesses that lead in those markets: Standard & Poor's, Business Week and the McGraw-Hill imprint in education. Three TV spots debuted nationally on business cable channels. Print starts in September, and the campaign breaks in Europe in the fall.

AT&T starts $30 mil rebranding of TCI

AT&T Corp. this week begins the transition of Tele-Communications Inc. to the AT&T brand. Starting Aug. 3, consumers will begin to see AT&T Cable Services and the AT&T corporate blue globe logo replace those of TCI on signs, trucks, and marketing materials and advertising. AT&T Broadband & Internet Services will continue as the overall corporate company with new products AT&T Cable, AT&T Digital Cable and AT&T @Home. The rebranding is expected to take about six months and cost about $30 million. The effort is being handled by TCI agencies Jordan McGrath Case & Partners/Euro RSCG, New York, and Thomas & Perkins, Denver. However, AT&T's two main agencies -- Foote, Cone & Belding and Y&R Advertising, both New York -- also are doing marketing and ad work as part of the TCI name absorption.

Martha Stewart company makes filing for IPO

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia filed a preliminary registration statement on July 29 with the Securities & Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering. The company expects to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. On July 28, Silicon Valley investment company Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers made a significant equity investment in MSLO. Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr

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