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Publicis profits soar 54%; 2 Saatchi executives exit

Publicis Groupe, Paris, said net profits for the first half of 2000 soared 54% over a year ago to $44 million. Gross income advanced 42% to $590 million as billings rose 43% to $3.9 billion. Results don't take into account its acquisition of Saatchi & Saatchi. Publicis Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy said Saatchi's acquisition -- finalized Sept. 12 when Publicis shares began trading on the New York Stock Exchange -- will "add a new dimension to the group," the world's fifth-largest consolidated agency network. At Saatchi & Saatchi, North American Chairman-CEO Jennifer Laing and Saatchi & Saatchi Vice Chairman Tony Dalton are leaving the agency, citing personal reasons. Taking over their duties will be an eight-person management team -- Julie Bauer, Keith Brunnell, Mike Burns, Tom Lom, Tim Love, Marie McNeely, Mike Popernik and Tod Seisser. Ms. Laing and Mr. Dalton, a longtime couple, will both return to the U.K.

P&G dumps Chloraseptic; adds Intuit's Cook to board

Procter & Gamble Co. sold its Chloraseptic throat spray and coldcare brand to Prestige Brands International. D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, handled Chloraseptic, which hasn't had measured media spending in the past two years, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The divestiture is the latest in a series P&G has made or sought to make as it moves to focus on such core brands as Tide and Pampers. Chloraseptic had sales of $21 million last year, less than 1% of P&G's $3.9 billion healthcare business. Separately, P&G announced election of one of its highest-profile alumni, Intuit founder Scott Cook, to its board. Mr. Cook, 48, was once brand manager of Crisco; he left P&G in 1980. On the P&G board, he succeeds John Sawhill, former president-CEO of the Nature Conservancy, who died in May.

Pair of new TV forays aimed at U.S. Latinos

Two veteran TV operations -- one in cable and the other in broadcast -- are making new forays into the U.S. Latino market. Home Box Office will break a campaign themed "Ciudad caliente" ("Hot city") in major U.S. Hispanic markets in conjunction with its Nov. 1 launch of HBO Latino. The effort from the Guild Group, White Plains, N.Y., includes local newspaper, TV, radio and outdoor, as well as local events and a national sweepstakes. In addition, consumer polls will be conducted in each market to determine such top attractions as the best restaurants and hottest clubs. A Web site is in development. HBO Latino will offer original Spanish-language programming along with documentaries, films and music videos from North America, Latin America and Spain. Separately, HBO also offers HBO en Espanol, a Spanish-language translation of its traditional fare. Separately, TV Azteca, Mexico's No. 2 broadcaster, is joining with California-based Pappas Telecasting to launch a new Spanish-language broadcast network in the U.S. The new Azteca America will compete with Univision, the top Spanish-language network in the U.S., and No. 2 Telemundo. Univision has about 80% of both total ratings and the estimated $900 million in Hispanic TV ad spending. Pappas will own about 80% of the estimated $500 million value of Azteca America, with TV Azteca providing programming valued at $100 million via an exclusive 20-year contract, in return for between 10% and 15% of the network. The partners expect the network coverage will initially reach 45% of the U.S.' Hispanic viewers, rising to 65% by 2002.

E-mail companies form group focusing on privacy

Amid a heightening privacy debate, 16 e-mail service companies formed the Responsible Electronic Communication Alliance to call for professional standards on messaging and e-commerce. Leading the charge is President Christopher Wolf, an Internet attorney with law firm Proskauer Rose, and Executive Director Peter Arnold, former spokesman for the Internet Tax Fairness Coalition, which lobbied successfully in 1998 for the Internet Tax Freedom Act. Founding members of RECA (responsibleemail.org) include the American List Council, Bigfoot Interactive, DoubleClick, Netcentives, Responsys, 24/7 Media and yesmail.com. The group hopes to push forward industrywide benchmarks that will respect consumer privacy as well as the needs of Internet service providers. RECA is developing guidelines -- based on the "fair information practices principles" endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission in July -- that will permit its members to send e-mail messages only to those consumers who give permission.

Burrell enlists trio of directors for Sprite

Publicis Groupe's Burrell Communications Group put together a back-room alliance of three directors to assist in formulating branding concepts for Coca-Cola Co.'s Sprite, said McGhee Williams, exec VP at the Chicago-based agency. The three, who all have directed commercials, are Fab 5 Freddy, host of "Yo MTV Raps"; Sanji, a music video director; and F. Gary Gray, a music video and motion picture director. "They don't necessarily work together," Ms. Williams said. "They brainstorm independently to come up with concepts for the brand. They are briefed and know the brand strategy. It puts them at the forefront of creative." Ms. Williams said the three were chosen because of their insight and understanding of the brand's young urban consumers.

Owner of ad space sues CBS for New Year's stunt

OTS Signs, Atlanta, owner of the ad space on a Times Square building that CBS obscured with its own message on New Year's Eve, filed a lawsuit against CBS Corp. CBS digitally obscured an electronic screen featuring NBC programming and NBC ads during CBS' New Year's Eve broadcast; instead, TV viewers saw a CBS logo on the side of the building (AA, Jan. 17). The suit in U.S. District Court, New York, alleges CBS violated federal laws against unfair competition and accuses the network of deceptive trade practices and trespassing. A CBS spokesman couldn't comment at press time.

Havas' Campus enters Canada via Vickers buy

Havas Advertising, Levallois, France, is expanding its Campus network into Canada via the acquisition of Vickers & Benson Cos., Toronto, the country's largest independent communications group. The Vickers & Benson operation will continue under that name as part of Campus; the Canadian company's units include Chicago agency Vickers & Benson. Remaining in their Vickers & Benson posts are Chairman-CEO John Hayter, Exec VP-Chief Operating Officer Jim Satterthwaite and Exec VP-Chairman of Creative Services Terry Bell.

Longtime OAAA D.C. exec Segal dies

Ruth Segal, 61, who as exec VP-government affairs at the Outdoor Advertising Association of America for more than a decade was one of the ad industry's leading figures in Washington, died Sept. 5 after battling breast cancer. The OAAA said it will set up a scholarship fund in Ms. Segal's honor at the Foundation for Outdoor Advertising Research & Education.

Bertelsmann boasts 35% increase in profits

Flush with the results of one fiscal year and projecting a $7 billion increase in revenue for the one to follow, executives for German media giant Bertelsmann presented financials for the year ended June 30 at a luncheon in Manhattan last week. Bertelsmann's fiscal 2000 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 35% to $1.7 billion on a 25% increase in revenue to $16.5 billion. Chief Financial Officer Siegfried Luther promised there are more initial public offerings to come for Bertelsmann properties but cautioned that "not every subsidiary" is right for such a move. While CEO Thomas Middlehoff made repeated references to the company's $15 billion "war chest" for acquisitions and promised an expansion of its U.S. magazine presence, Bertelsmann executives didn't comment on questions about specific future deals.

Also in print media . . .

Variety will launch a new monthly title, eV, covering the intersection of show business, technology and finance. Debut date for eV is Sept. 21. Its circulation will be 55,000 and, unlike Variety, won't be available on newsstands. . . . Los Angeles Times on Sept. 14 ceased publication of its 14 "Our Times" community news sections. "Our Times" was one of many initiatives undertaken by the daily under Times Mirror Co. CEO Mark Willes, who departed after Tribune Co. announced its acquisition of Times Mirror. Some industry observers expect the Times will now opt for a more regional, as opposed to local, focus. . . . Daily News Express, a free, commuter-targeted afternoon edition of the New York City tabloid, debuted Sept. 12. The Daily News expects the Express to average 40 pages daily, half of which will be advertising, and initial daily pressruns will be 75,000. The Express' debut was preceded by a different pricing tactic from tabloid rival New York Post, which halved its newsstand price to 25› after Labor Day.

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