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Diageo moves ahead with media review

A handful of media agencies this week have sent in their responses to a request for proposals sent out by Diageo, which is reviewing its estimated $150 million consolidated U.S. media buying and planning business for its spirits and beer brands. Diageo's United Distillers & Vintners, Seagram and Guinness Brewing brands are in the review, which has been expected since 1998, when the London-based food marketer acquired Guinness. According to advertising executives, agencies in the review include WPP Group's MindShare, Grey Global Group's MediaCom, CIA Medianetwork and Bcom3 Group's MediaVest Worldwide.

Sears chooses Y&R for brand repositioning

Sears, Roebuck & Co. picked WPP's Y&R Advertising, Chicago, for a new brand repositioning campaign scheduled to break later this year. The decision followed a shootout against sibling WPP shop Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, that began in May. Details of the new campaign have not been released. Sears recently applied for trademarks for tag lines which include: "Real. Life. Sears"; "We guarantee the things that matter"; "Sears. what else do you need?"; "Sears. Check"; "Sears: Where else?"; and "The best Sears of your life."

Reckitt launches review after Warwick closure

Reckitt Benckiser has launched a review for creative responsibilities on its various food brands. The account includes roughly $15 million in billings for such brands as French's mustards and sauces and Frank's RedHot sauce. The review, which is being handled by Roth Associates, New York, was prompted by the closure of longtime Reckitt Benckiser agency Warwick Baker O'Neill, New York. Media responsibilities, handled by Havas Advertising's Media Planning, New York, are not in review. Warwick closed its doors Aug. 3 after 62 years following several client losses. Warwick last year agreed to be acquired by Panoramic Communications' EPB Communications but the deal fell through earlier this year.

EU pharmaceutical reform could lead to DTC ads

In what some ad industry experts said is the first step toward allowing trans-Atlantic direct-to-consumer advertising for prescription drugs, the European Commission, July 18, adopted a proposal to reform pharmaceutical legislation. If enacted, it would allow patients to seek information directly from drug companies, possibly altering Europe's current ban on public advertising of prescription medicines. The five-year pilot program applies to three disease-specific groups: diabetes, AIDS or asthma. EU officials insist this is not a move toward U.S.-style DTC prescription-drug advertising, but some agency executives believe otherwise. "As far as I'm concerned, [DTC] is going to happen in Europe and it's coming in by the back door," said Charles Shallcross, managing director of Gerbig Snell/Weisheimer, Europe. Prior to implementation, the 15 EU member states and the European Parliament must approve the proposed reform-a process that could take from 12 months to seven years.

WPP given until August to counter Havas bid

WPP has until mid-August to launch a counter bid to Havas Advertising's $600 million offer for London-based media specialist Tempus Group. WPP, whose advisers are studying the financial information that Tempus provided to Havas, is the largest single shareholder in Tempus with a 22% stake. Separately, the share price of London-based Aegis has fluctuated on speculation that, as the parent company of the only remaining sizable independent media specialist Carat, Aegis will also become a takeover target.

Committee holds hearing concerning media ratings

Sen. Joe Lieberman, (D., Conn.), urged the entertainment media to make changes in its ratings system for movies, videogames and music, accusing the entertainment media of sending messages "that too often reject ... the basic values parents are trying to instill." At his first hearing on the media content issue since becoming chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, Sen. Lieberman heard concerns about violent media from researchers and parents and urged industry representatives to make changes in the ratings system. Fellow committee members, industry representatives and actor William Baldwin, however, questioned the constitutionality of Congress taking such action.

FYI

Microsoft Corp. and its partners will spend $1 billion in marketing to back the launch of its Windows XP system, according to Richard Belluzzo, president and chief operating officer. ... Procter & Gamble Co. has moved its $30 million U.S. advertising accounts for Pepto-Bismol and Metamucil to Bcom3's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, from sibling shop Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. ... Walt Disney Co., as expected (Advertising Age, July 23), agreed to purchase the troubled Fox Family Worldwide for $5.3 billion from Fox Family partners News Corp. and Saban Entertainment. The new network, to be called ABC Family, will improve Disney's already strong position with kids entertainment worldwide, as well as increasing Disney's array of cable networks.

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