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AT&T consolidates consumer account at Y&R

AT&T Corp.'s consumer advertising account is being consolidated at WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York. The company's consumer business had been split between Y&R and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York. FCB handled the "1-800-CALL-ATT" account, directory assistance work and some competitive analysis for the consumer account. FCB will retain the AT&T business advertising account. The decision was made earlier this month without a review. Y&R, which does corporate brand work for AT&T, now holds all the AT&T consumer ad business. AT&T spent nearly $400 million in measured media in the U.S. on consumer advertising in 2000, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

United expands, American launches image campaigns

United Airlines will expand its back-to-business image campaign with four 30-second spots that will run during News Corp.-unit Fox's coverage of the World Series. The spots follow three earlier 60-second ads. All feature employees speaking in testimonial fashion and were shot by Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis. Separately, American Airlines launched a similar image effort Oct. 24 in print and on radio with a theme focusing on an airline's role in bringing people together. American's agency is Interpublic's Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas.

Sears unveils profit plan, looks to win holiday season

Sears, Roebuck & Co. announced a repositioning plan to double profits by 2004 and intends to triumph in the holiday retail wars by bringing in customers to its stores on key Saturday shopping days in December. Under the plan, Sears will morph into a new breed of retailer, one which is neither department store nor discounter. Changes will range from the installation of discount-store-type central checkout areas to a shift in merchandise with fewer brands and, in the apparel arena, having only one Sears private label casual brand across clothing lines. As part of the plan, Sears also announced extensive layoffs, cutting 4,900 employees, or 22% of its salaried work force.

General Mills may proceed with Pillsbury acquisition

General Mills will likely be able to proceed with its acquisition of Pillsbury Co. from Diageo following last week's U.S. Federal Trade Commission decision not to block the deal for antitrust reasons. The delay over the $5.36 billion purchase was said to have been caused by the FTC's concern over Pillsbury's sale of its dessert and baking mix brands to International Multifoods Corp. As a result, Multifoods will get royalty-free use of the Pillsbury name and the Pillsbury Doughboy icon and five additional brands.

Diageo explores strategy for Seagram acquisition

Diageo and Pernod Ricard are working to complete their $10.4 billion acquisition of Vivendi Universal's Seagram Wine & Spirits unit after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission last week quashed current merger plans. The government feels the existing deal, which has been approved in Canada and Europe, would give Diageo and its United Distillers & Vintners unit too much sway in the U.S. rum market. There is talk Diageo will sell its coconut-flavored Malibu rum to allow the Seagram deal to proceed. Diageo wants domestic rights to Captain Morgan spiced rum, but rival Allied Domecq Spirits & Wine said it has marketing rights.

U.K. to hear Tempus appeal from WPP Group

The U.K.'s Takeover Panel will hear an appeal this week from WPP Group, after refusing to let WPP drop its $630 million bid for London-based media buying group Tempus. WPP claimed to have new information that strengthened its case for citing "material adverse change" to pull out of the deal, but the Takeover Panel still ruled as expected against WPP. For more, see AdAge.com QwikFIND ID: AAM73A.

FYI

CKE Restaurants' Hardee's Food Systems, St. Louis, is moving its $80 million advertising business from Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, to Mendelsohn/Zien, Los Angeles. The shop also handles CKE sibling Carl's Jr. and Taco Bueno, which CKE sold in June. ... Emmaus, Pa.-based Rodale Press laid off about 150 people, or around 13% of its total work force, said executives familiar with the situation. ... Fred Woodward, creative director of Wenner Media and one of the company's five VPs, resigned his position there to sign on as GQ magazine's design director. The highly regarded Mr. Woodward, a 14-year veteran of Wenner Media, will begin his new role in late November, and will replace the Conde Nast title's current design director, Arem Duplessis, who is leaving GQ. ... General Mills this month launches Frosted Mini Chex to extend its Chex cereal franchise to kids. The launch, initially set to roll into the Northeast and portions of the Midwest, will be supported beginning in January with seven months of kid-targeted TV spots from Interpublic's Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis.

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