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Hearst turns lights out at 'Classic American Home'

Hearst Magazines last week closed Classic American Home. A company statement said, "We have decided it does not have the potential to reach the circulation levels that we use as a benchmark for mass consumer magazines today." Through the first half of the year, Classic American Home's circulation was 521,188, up slightly from the previous year. This summer The Industry Standard, Working Woman, Family PC and Maximum Golf have all ceased publication, though some of those are available to buyers.

Y&R wins `significant' account from VeriSign

VeriSign, a provider of Web infastructure services, has awarded its global account to WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, San Francisco. Spending on the account was not disclosed, but the company filed documents with Securities and Exchange Commission stating advertising spending last year at $90 million. Agency officials declined to comment, except to say the spending was "significant."

The news was first reported by AdAge.com.

The account was awarded without a review and after the company worked with Y&R's brand-consulting services group, which developed a marketing strategy. Y&R, which will handle creative and media planning, is VeriSign's first agency. Dot-com registrar Network Solutions, which has been merged into VeriSign, previously worked with Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett, Chicago.

A TV and print campaign will break this fall in North America, followed by efforts in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

VeriSign in the first half of this year posted a fourfold revenue increase, to $444.6 million. Sales and marketing spending tripled to $129.8 million, according to SEC documents. The company also had a net loss of $12.6 billion, largely reflecting a writedown of goodwill and other assets.

Target sues Kmart over its `Dare to Compare'

Target Corp. filed a lawsuit alleging Kmart Corp.'s "Dare to Compare" campaign listed incorrect prices.

Target, the nation's No. 3 discount chain, accused Kmart, the No. 2 chain, of listing inaccurate prices in its in-store ad program, which compares its prices to those of other retailers, including Target.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, cited a study that claimed 74% of Kmart's advertised price comparisons were wrong. The ad displays listed either incorrect prices for Kmart products or Target products, or included a comparison to a product Target does not sell, according to the suit.

Jack Ferry, director of financial and corporate communications for Kmart, said the company is "still committed to the Dare to Compare" pricing campaign. "We will vigorously defend the program and the lawsuit."

A Target spokeswoman said Kmart's aggressive pricing initiative is not of concern to the chain, but the accuracy of the claims is. "It's about getting the prices accurate," she said.

Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, is Kmart's agency. Kmart's in-store advertising is done by FRCH Design, Cincinnati. Target uses a number of shops, including Peterson Milla Hooks, Minneapolis.

Ammer to head marketing at Sony's Columbia TriStar

Sony Pictures Entertainment named Geoffrey Ammer president of marketing of its Columbia TriStar Marketing Group.

Mr. Ammer had been a marketing executive at Revolution Studios, which has a long-term production deal at Sony. Mr. Ammer comes to Sony after two recent advertising mishaps at the studio. Josh Goldstine, senior exec VP-marketing, was one of two executives put on a 30-day suspension recently as a result of using quotes from a fictional movie critic, David Manning, in print advertising materials for a number of movies.

"This was not a direct reaction to the David Manning situation," said Jeff Blake, president-worldwide marketing and distribution for Columbia TriStar Motion Pictures Group. "This was about adding an executive that could help in the day-to-day operations of the department."

True North lays off 89 over past 60 days

TN Media laid off 89 employees over the last 60 days as it merged its operations with Initiative Media North America following Interpublic Group of Cos. acquisition of True North Communications. In addition, 80 Initiative employees also were dismissed over the last three months, according to a spokeswoman. Initiative Media, meanwhile, absorbed 151 TN Media employees .

Bcom3, Havas record revenue increases for 2Q

Bcom3 posted a 2.1% increase in revenue in the second quarter, to $479.9 million from $469.9 in 2000. For the first six months, revenue increased 9%, to $927.1 million from $850.7 million. Bcom3 showed net income of $4.5 million for the quarter and $7 million for the first half, but showed losses per share of $2.89 and $6.01 for those same periods, respectively. The per-share loss resulted from the mandatory redemption of company shares, which cost $36.3 million in the second quarter and $70 million in the first half. The company's bylaws require employee shareholders to sell their shares back when they leave the company. Bcom3's plans for an initial public offering of stock have been delayed due to the weak economy; the agency group is now expected to go public next year.

Havas Advertising posted first-half revenue of $1.01 billion, an increase of 49.8% over 2000; organic growth was 5.5%, factoring the acquisition of Snyder Communications and excluding other acquisitions and currency effects. On that adjusted basis, traditional advertising rose only 1.6% while marketing services grew 8.3%. Europe was the fastest-growing region, with a 6.4% increase in adjusted revenue, while Latin America grew 4.5%, North America, 2.4% and Asia decreased 0.5%. Havas also announced it has acquired an additional 3.6% stake in Tempus and extended its merger offer until Sept. 3 to facilitate the takeover of the media company.

Fairchild postpones launch of WWD.com

Fairchild Publications Aug. 22 pulled the plug on WWD.com's staff and indefinitely postponed its plans to launch the site, which was to have debuted Sept. 10. WWD.com, the online arm of the Fairchild trade powerhouse Women's Wear Daily, would have been one of the magazine world's most ambitious Web content plays, featuring deep archives, extensive designer data and a hefty annual subscription price tag of $895. WWD.com had 12 staffers; Fairchild is seeking to place them within its parent company, Advance Publications. Eight look likely to stay on at Fairchild. The site's head, Rochelle Udell, remains president of Fairchild Internet.

Stagebill buys `Avenue,' 'Performing Arts' titles

Stagebill LLC, a publisher of publications serving tony theaters and performing-arts centers, acquired upper-crust Manhattan freebie title Avenue and Performing Arts magazine. Avenue, whose founder Judith Price will remain with the publication, has a distribution of about 80,000 in high-end areas of Manhattan. Performing Arts distributes about 600,000 copies monthly at venues on the West Coast and at New Jersey's Performing Arts Center in Newark. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

FYI

Philips Consumer Electronics North America named Mark Buss its chief marketing officer, replacing Michael Lang, who becomes general manager of Philips' audio/video group. Mr. Buss had been VP-strategic marketing at Maytag Corp., where he had a 20-year career ... Havas Advertising's Brann Worldwide acquired Asian direct-marketing agency Wong Wong Boyack, San Francisco. ... Relizon Co., Dayton, Ohio, acquired marketing-services company Epsilon in an effort to expand its customer relationship management capabilities. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ... Marketing-software company Engage, which announced several weeks ago that parent CMGI had pulled its funding, cut about 100 media-related jobs and will ax another 125 employees if the company does not find a buyer for its media business. The layoffs totaled 18.5% of Engage's work force. ... Omnicom's TBWA Worldwide acquired Weiss Stagliano Partners, New York, and O'Malley & Hogan, Dublin, and merged the two into Brand Architecture International. It will operate as a stand-alone business within the TBWA group and will report to Carl Johnson, chief operating officer, TBWA Worldwide. ... Fidelity Investments will divide the work previously done by Interpublic's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston-estimated at $150 million-among its other roster agencies: Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston; Interpublic's Gotham, New York; and its in-house shop, Fidelity Advertising.

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