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New Burger King pitch

touts Whopper as `king'

Burger King Corp. hopes to reclaim its title as "king of the burgers" with an adult-market campaign set to break March 5. As the crown jewel of the Diageo unit's $400 million marketing budget, this first effort by new agency Interpublic Group of Cos' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, carries the tagline "In the land of burgers, Whopper is king." Burger King is trying to wrest the burger crown from McDonald's Corp. in a highly saturated and challenging market. Burger King's same-store sales in the second half of 2000 fell 6% globally and 7% in the U.S., though the chain said the sales decline has been less steep in the first two months of 2001. The new slogan was first reported on

Lowe puts Hammersley

in new role of U.S. CEO

Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide will move U.K. Chief Executive Paul Hammersley to New York from London in the new role of U.S. CEO, people familiar with the move told Ad Age Feb. 28. He will join the current two-man U.S. top management team of Gary Goldsmith, who is chairman and chief creative officer, and President Rob Quish.

The New York office was the hardest hit in both client losses and management restructuring in the wake of the November 1999 merger between Interpublic siblings Lowe & Partners Worldwide and Ammirati Puris Lintas.

Mr. Hammersley, who won't move to New York until later this year, is expected to be the last major change in the New York agency's senior management.

FCB Worldwide will handle

Taco Bell merchandising

Taco Bell Corp. handed its estimated $15 million merchandising business to True North Communications' FCB Worldwide, Costa Mesa, Calif., from Impiric, a WPP Group unit. FCB began work in January and is expected to debut a new in-store merchandising system later this month. FCB, which also handles field marketing, was given Taco Bell's entire $204 million ad account in July 2000 after the Irvine, Calif.-based unit of Tricon Global Restaurants fired its president and Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif.

Disney, Wenner join forces

to create Us Weekly LLC

Walt Disney Co. and Wenner Media announced the formation of Us Weekly LLC, a partnership in which the two companies will split ownership of the Wenner title that had a rocky transformation from monthly to weekly frequency. On the Disney side, ABC Entertainment will broadcast an annual Us Weekly-branded entertainment awards show and Us-branded content and correspondents will appear on ABC properties ranging from its local news presentations to "Good Morning America" to its radio networks to its new cable station SoapNet. Wenner Media execs will continue to run the magazine.

`Accounting matter' delays True North earnings report

True North Communications, Chicago, late Feb. 28 postponed its fourth-quarter and year-end earnings release and related conference call, which had been set for March 1. The agency cited a delay in an earnings release by interactive shop Modem Media, in which True North holds a 46% stake. True North also said its accountants "brought an accounting matter to the attention of the [Securities and Exchange Commission] accounting staff... and have been in discussions with them." In a statement, Kevin Smith, True North's exec VP-chief financial officer, said True North is giving the SEC data on past amortization of intangible assets related to earlier acquisitions. "It is important to recognize that these are technical accounting matters which would not affect either our cash flow or...the underlying economic value of our business, but could affect how we report our results," Mr. Smith said, adding True North hopes to resolve the matter and release its results "promptly."

WPP Group names Lader

its new non-exec chair

Philip Lader, outgoing U.S. ambassador to the U.K. and Northern Ireland, was named non-executive chairman of the WPP Group. Mr. Lader, 54, replaces Hamish Maxwell, who is retiring.

The role of non-executive chairman at WPP is a part-time job, according to Richard Oldworth, CEO of WPP's public relations company, Buchanan Public Relations. "But it certainly has power in the U.K., because a non-exec chairman is seen as a good check on the executive management," he said.

H&R Block ordered to pay

in false advertising case

H&R Block was ordered to pay $506,477 to a rival tax preparation service in a false advertising lawsuit regarding Block's refund anticipation loan product. A judge in Virginia Beach, Va., ruled in favor of Liberty Tax Service, Hampton Roads, Va., in a suit filed Jan. 2000, which claimed Block's ads violated the Internal Revenue Service requirement to disclose that the product is a loan. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia also issued an injunction barring H&R Block from using terms such as "refund" or "advance" unless the ads state clearly the funds in question are a loan.

An H&R Block spokesman said the ads aren't scheduled to run again and noted the product involved in the suit was only available in select test markets and wasn't being offered this tax season. Y&R Advertising, Chicago, created the campaign; Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, now handles.

Grey Worldwide wins

Marconi's $50 mil acc't

Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide won Marconi Communications' $50 million account, people familiar with the review said. Grey's New York and London offices are expected to share the telecommunications equipment maker's global assignment. Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Worldwide, New York, also vied for the assignment. Athorn, Clark & Partners, New York, previously handled the account.

A Grey spokeswoman declined to comment, and Bates executives could not be reached for comment. David Ganz, Marconi's VP-global marketing, did not return phone calls or e-mail messages seeking comment by press time. London-based Marconi is a provider of Internet communications and networking hardware and software. The win was first reported on

Currency troubles halt P&G shipments to Turkey

Procter & Gamble Co. is suspending shipments to Turkey, its 12th-largest global market, until the country's currency stabilizes, according to a company spokesman. The move, in response to a 36% devaluation in the Turkish lira, caused P&G to reduce volume and sales estimates for its fiscal third quarter ending in March by a full percentage point. Turkey represents $400 million, or 1% of P&G's annual sales. The company says third-quarter earnings would be 69 cents to 72 cents a share, 2 cents to 3 cents below current analyst estimates. P&G cut its full-year earnings estimates by 4 cents to 5 cents to the low end of analysts' estimates.

Club Med's new resorts

target younger clientele

Club Med's new Oyyo resorts are aimed at a vacationers aged 18-30. True North's' FCB 20-80, Paris, created ads showing Oyyo as a party zone with the tagline, "If you sleep, you're dead."

Longtime Maritz exec

dies of cancer at age 72

William E. (Bill) Maritz, former president-CEO and chairman of St. Louis-based Maritz Marketing Research, died Feb. 26 from complications related to prostate cancer. Mr. Maritz was 72. Mr. Maritz was with the company for 48 years.

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