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Zenith takes over defunct shop's Verizon business

The Seattle office of Zenith Media will handle the Verizon print account formerly held by Media Passage, a media placement agency based in Seattle that closed its doors Sept. 24, laying off approximately 150 employees. Zenith, jointly owned by Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications Group, is Verizon's media agency of record and continues to handle its print buying and planning business. Media Passage, which earlier this year merged with One Media Place, essentially performed a clerical function for Verizon, implementing and monitoring print advertising buys that were negotiated by Zenith. A significant number of Media Passage employees are expected to be rehired by Zenith and folded into the Seattle office.

Senate confirms Beers' State Department role

Without debate, the U.S. Senate last week confirmed President Bush's choice of longtime ad executive Charlotte Beers as the U.S. State Department's assistant secretary on public diplomacy. Ms. Beers was nominated in March but confirmation had taken months. In the end it was rushed through as the Senate moved to get remaining State Department nominees in place in the wake of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11.

`Mode' magazine closes; MCG forecloses on `Upside'

Mode magazine, the title aimed at plus-size women, was closed by half-owner Freedom Magazines on Sept. 24. Its October issue currently on newsstands will be its last. Mode had been shopped unsuccessfully for months. Nancy LeWinter, a co-founder of the title with Julie Lewit, with whom she retained a 50% interest in the title, said that two companies were interested in a possible purchase but nothing came of the discussions; she declined to identify them. Through August, Mode's ad pages were down 3.8% to 352.1.

Separately, Arlington, Va.-based MCG Capital foreclosed on the assets of new-economy title Upside on Sept. 26, according to published reports. In August, MCG foreclosed on the assets of Working Woman Network, shuttering Working Woman and laying off, by one executive's estimate, about 40% of the company's staff.

Ford expands sponsorship of Black football series

Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division expanded its sponsorship of Historically Black College and University football classics this year. The marketer tapped conference alumni Rasheed Leak and Steve Joyner to drive 4,587 miles in a 2001 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle. The duo will travel to 10 games through late November and give away game tickets, stop at local dealerships, mentor students and film their activities. A three-minute segment from the duo will run weekly on a regional News Corp. Fox Sports affiliate. The Web site (www.fordroadtrip.com) tracks the journey.

Novartis launches print corporate image ads

Novartis today launches a corporate image campaign from Ruder Finn, New York. The tagline is "Think what's possible." The print-only launch may segue into broadcast next year. Novartis declined to release spending for the effort. In 2000, Novartis spent $51.6 million on media for four prescription drugs, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Although not mentioned in the ads, which focus on cancer treatment options, Novartis' new prescription drug Gleevec is the driver behind the campaign. After receiving government approval in May, Gleevec generated $36 million in sales in the second quarter. One aim of the campaign is to make the investment community more aware of Novartis.

AOL Time Warner, Primedia issue earnings warnings

AOL Time Warner issued an earnings warning Sept. 24, saying that the company would fall short of its previous targets for fiscal 2001. The company said it now expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to increase 20% in 2001, compared with its earlier goal of increasing EBITDA by 31% to $11 billion.

Separately, Primedia warned investors this year's EBITDA, would be significantly off its earlier projections and would come in below last year's level. In July, in the wake of its acquisition of Emap USA, Primedia projected EBITDA this year to be in the range of $280 million to $300 million, but now says its 2001 EBITDA would come in below 2000's level of $250 million. Meanwhile, Primedia's About.com has has let go about 20% of its 275 staffers. The site has also scaled back its part-time online guides from 750 to 450.

FYI

Standard Media International's The Industry Standard, which ceased publication in August, sold its assets in a San Francisco bankruptcy court. AOL Time Warner's Fortune magazine bought Standard Media's list of about 100,000 paid subscribers for a reported $500,000 at a bankruptcy auction; that deal is subject to negotiation and finalization. Standard Media also pulled the plug on TheStandard.com. ... Deepgroup, a U.K. digital communications group employing 180 people and owner of digital agency Deepend, went into liquidation on Sept. 24. Deepend was known for award winning U.K. Web sites for clients like Volkswagen's New Beetle and Viacom's MTV. ... Tricon Global Restaurants' KFC Corp. tapped John Gilbert as chief marketing officer. ... Frank P. McGrath, 77, president of McGrath & Co., Indianapolis, and executive director of the Indiana Federation of Advertising Agencies, died Sept. 25.

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