Aegis Group's Carat June 20 won the $600 million consolidated global media business of Philips Electronics, except for the Latin American portion, which remains at Bcom3 Group's MediaVest. Before the consolidation, MediaVest handled broadcast buying for consumer electronics and personal care. Havas Advertising's Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, had print; Carat Freeman, Boston, handled business-to-business print buying. Along with MediaVest, finalists included Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media. (See Adages, P. 8.)
True North holders clear purchase by Interpublic
True North Communications shareholders June 19 approved the company's acquisition by Interpublic. At a meeting in Chicago, 66% of eligible shareholders voted, approving the stock-swap by 97.3%. The deal-worth $1.72 billion at Interpublic's $29.65 closing price June 18-is expected to close by month's end. Separately, Interpublic Exec VP-Chief Financial Officer Sean Orr said Interpublic would begin "pruning" its portfolio. On June 18 at the Mid-Year Media Review in New York, Mr. Orr said, "Interpublic has bought hundreds and hundreds of businesses. ... We're looking at some of these businesses and seeing if they fit in the strategy that is the foundation of the new Interpublic. Candidly, some of them don't." He also hinted at further layoffs at member agencies, and said following its True North purchase, Interpublic will cut "any of the redundant corporate functions."
Euro RSCG McConnaughy Tatham June 21 cut 12 jobs, about 5% of its 250 workers, said a spokesman, citing the slowing economy and loss of the $30 million Midas account this month. At least four of the posts pared at the Havas shop were in the creative department, according to an executive with knowledge of the action. Separately, Mullen/ LHC, Winston-Salem, N.C., cut 30 employees, or 20% of its staff, citing client losses and a slowing ad climate. Reductions affect all lines of business, a spokeswoman for the Interpublic unit said. Mullen/LHC this year lost Sara Lee Corp.'s $10 million to $15 million Hanes account and the estimated $8 million Thomasville Furniture account. Meanwhile, Digitas, Boston, cut 130 more staffers; it now employs 1,600 people.
Levi's president resigns; Europe chief to take post
James Capon, president of the Levi's brand in the U.S., a part of Levi Strauss & Co., resigned after less than two years at the helm. He will be replaced by Robert Hanson, president of the brand in Europe and the U.K. The news was first reported June 18 on Adage.com. Mr. Hanson worked with Bcom3-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, London. The change puts new pressure on the Levi's brand's U.S. shop, Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco, which has struggled to connect the brand with young consumers.
Toyota begins search for African-American agency
Toyota Motor Sales USA's Toyota Division is in the early stages of a review for its first African-American ad agency. The request for proposals will be sent out shortly, said Steve Sturm, VP-marketing at the automaker. He declined to discuss possible contenders. He said he hoped for a "near-term" decision. Toyota said last month it was working with Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif., to study whether to hire an African-American agency. Saatchi does both Hispanic and African-American Toyota ads, although the Hispanic account has a dedicated team. The coming review follows last month's controversy over a promotional postcard done by Saatchi, which the Rev. Jesse Jackson called "offensive."
New York Lottery returns $60 mil account to DDB
The New York State lottery is returning its $60 million account to Omnicom's DDB Worldwide, New York, after a review. DDB competed against incumbent Grey Advertising, a unit of Grey Global Group, Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Advertising and the Wolf Group. The costs associated with the DDB proposal were also the lowest of all proposals submitted, representing a potential savings of up to 10% compared with the current contract. Grey had wrested the account from DDB in 1998.
AT&T Wireless narrows review to three shops
The review for AT&T Corp.'s estimated $400 million AT&T Wireless account has narrowed to three agencies. Publicis Groupe's Fallon, Minneapolis, was dropped. The remaining agencies are FCB Worldwide, New York; WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York; and TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. FCB is considered the incumbent; the agency's San Francisco office held the wireless account since 1995. A decision is expected fairly quickly.
Omnicom's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, won Dial Corp.'s $15 million to $20 million personal-cleansing products account, beating Richards Group, Dallas, and Interpublic's Suissa Miller, Los Angeles. ... FedEx approved the creation of an "overarching" effort by Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, its longtime agency, to promote the "broad portfolio of our service options," said FedEx. The confirmation comes as BBDO fends off rumors (denied by both FedEx and BBDO) that FedEx considered putting its $75 million account into review. ... Digital Convergence, whose Cue Cat scanner allows print readers to jump to related Web pages, laid off an undisclosed number of employees. ... Matthew Seiler, managing director of Wieden & Kennedy, New York, quit. He said he wanted to take Wieden "to a different place." He will be replaced by Buz Sawyer, president of now-closed San Francisco office of Interpublic's Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide.