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FCB loses its taste for Little Caesars

FCB Worldwide, Southfield, Mich., said it resigned the Little Caesars restaurant account, citing a conflict with the Taco Bell assignment handled by FCB's Costa Mesa, Calif., office. The Little Caesars business was originally won by what was then the Southfield office of Bozell. The office was later renamed FCB and brought into the FCB network under a reorganization by True North Communications, parent of both FCB and Bozell. A spokeswoman for Little Caesar Enterprises said she was unaware of FCB's decision. Little Caesars moved from national to regional advertising last year. Of the $21 million it spent in measured media in 1999, less than half was in national network TV, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Heavyweights put $250 mil into b-to-b e-marketplace

A group of 49 consumer-goods marketers is providing $250 million to fund a new business-to-business e-marketplace, a for-profit company named Transora. The marketers represent more than $500 billion in annual sales, and include such powerhouses as Coca-Cola Co., Kraft Foods, Procter & Gamble Co. and Unilever. Though initial plans for the global network will focus on services such as procurement and vendor cataloging, the second phase of transactions, scheduled for early next year, will likely look at addressing inefficiencies in spot and national media buying, said Martha Uhlhorn, VP-electronic commerce and category management for equity partner Earthgrains Co.

P&G offers low-price gifts with new e-tailing venture

Procter & Gamble Co. on June 14 launched a test of, its second business-to-consumer interactive venture following last year's launch of customized beauty-care retailer Craig Wynett, P&G general manager-corporate new ventures new business development group, said MoreThanACard aims to tap the $30 billion under-$25 gift market by selling themed gift packages of P&G and non-P&G products for new baby, new house, new job, new pet or other special occasions. MoreThanACard won't get media advertising for now.

TVB, Time Inc. debate power of DTC ad medium

Television Bureau of Advertising earlier this month released a study showing 62% of more than 2,000 respondents felt the listing of side effects in direct-to-consumer ads made the advertising trustworthy. The implication: The side effect dissemination in TV ads actually may benefit marketers, not turn off consumers. Last week however, Time Inc., which wants marketers to consider print as the preferred DTC medium, released a study refuting TVB's. In the Time Inc. survey, 61% of the 1,000 people surveyed said they would be deterred enough by side effect information in TV ads not to take a drug.

Vivendi/Seagram deal could mirror AOL/TW

French communications and media conglomerate Vivendi and its Canal Plus pay TV subsidiary confirmed they're negotiating a potential megamerger with Seagram Co., the Canadian alcoholic beverage marketer that also owns Universal Studios and major recorded music operations. Canal Plus has a major movie operation in Europe, and Vivendi has a joint venture with the U.K.'s Vodafone, called Vizzavi, which could become a major pan-European Internet portal. Vivendi also controls a 13% stake in Paris-based Havas Advertising, the world's fourth-largest ad organization as ranked by Advertising Age. Analysts immediately compared a Vivendi/Seagram merger to the pending America Online/Time Warner combination, since both would bring together entertainment, media and Internet assets into a single global company. Vivendi isn't seen as wanting Seagram's spirits and wine division, which could be sold off.

NBC Internet sheds Snap, Xoom sites

NBC Internet, the money-losing Web roll-up launched last November by General Electric Co.'s NBC, said it would integrate its consumer properties under the brand effective this fall. NBC Internet is jettisoning two brands -- and -- that had been part of the roll-up. NBC Internet also said revenue and earnings for the second quarter and year will be lower than expected because of "a soft dot-com advertising market," the impact of two recent acquisitions and the "anticipated near-term effects" of the reorganization. NBC Internet's stock plummeted on the news; it traded late last week below $16 for a market cap below $1 billion, off 85% from its 2000 -- and all-time -- peak. NBC Internet, 40.3% owned by NBC, lost $107.1 million on revenue of $30.1 million for the first quarter. NBC Internet ranks a distant eighth among portals (see Page S-62 of the Interactive 100 Special Report in this issue).

Coke settles bias suit; new court action begins

Coca-Cola Co. last week settled a 14-month-long race discrimination lawsuit brought by eight current and former employees. While terms weren't disclosed, both sides agreed to have a monetary settlement by October that could include another 2,000 employees in a potential class-action suit. Separately last week, four African-American women, all former Coca-Cola employees, filed a $1.5 billion lawsuit against Coca-Cola.

FCBi is created from direct, online divisions

FCB Worldwide combined its direct and interactive divisions to form FCBi. The group also includes FCB's new database group, Analytici. Analytici, headquartered in New York, will offer database services to FCB clients and be headed by Steve Horne, currently exec VP-FCB Marketing Technologies. The combined FCBi operation includes 33 offices worldwide with an estimated $775 million in billings. Steve Humphrey, president-CEO of FCB Direct Worldwide, will assume the same post within FCBi.

TV sports media buying veteran Sheehan dies

Longtime TV sports media buyer Bill Sheehan, 71, died June 15 of stomach cancer. Mr. Sheehan was senior VP-sports negotiations for Zenith Media Services, New York. He had been at the same agency since 1951, when it was Dancer Fitzgerald Sample. Recently, Mr. Sheehan put together a title sponsorship deal for PaineWebber with CBS for the network's weekend sports update show. Last year, Mr. Sheehan was named as an Advertising Age Media Maven.

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