Microsoft Corp. awarded its estimated $100 million X-Box videogame account to McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. The X-Box, set to debut in fall of 2001, is Microsoft's entry into the $7 billion videogame console business. McCann, which handles a wide portfolio of Microsoft work, had been the expected winner (AA, March 13) in a shoot-out with Berlin, Cameron & Partners.
Antidrug office readies $2.1 mil magazine blitz
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy announced plans for a one-month "magazine roadblock," with $2.1 million in ads in 61 May titles, reaching a circulation of 90 million. The antidrug office said the ads will have two themes: Ads aimed at parents will focus on parenting skills, while ads aimed at youths will concentrate on resistance skills. The Partnership for a Drug-Free America creates ads for the antidrug office, with media buying handled by Ogilvy & Mather, New York. The antidrug office said the buy was designed with assistance from the Magazine Publishers of America. The spending represents 25% of the office's print budget.
`Brand power' drops for U.S. marketers
The U.S.' best-known brands last year suffered an unprecedented drop in "brand power" scores, a rating created by global brand consultancy Corporate Branding to measure brands' familiarity and favorability. A study released by the company showed that for the first time in 10 years, nine of the 10 highest-rated brands (above) declined in score from the previous year, based on interviews with 8,000 senior executives at top-tier U.S. corporations. Respondents rated 575 companies on overall reputation and investment potential, which was most likely the driving factor behind the decline in "brand power" of the U.S.' blue chips including Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co., said Brad Puckey, associate director of brand intelligence at Corporate Branding. "Dot-com brands and the explosive growth they've had really drag some of the attention, in terms of investment, away from those larger brands."
GM unveils pair of new reward credit cards
General Motors Corp. is introducing two reward credit cards, a new standard GM Card and an all-new GM Platinum Card in a continuation with Household Bank and MasterCard International. An estimated $20 million media push broke March 24 on national TV during March Madness college basketball playoffs and continues through May. The ads are only for the Platinum card, which will let members accrue more redemption dollars faster than the current card. The creative, also including national print and Internet banners, is the first from Mullen, Wenham, Mass. The agency has done strategy work on the account since 1997. The tag is "What are you charging toward?" Mullen also worked on a Web site that debuted March 24 at gmcard.com and a direct mailing that goes to 16 million prospects this week. GM launched the original card in 1992 and last advertised it on national TV in 1994. Membership peaked in '97 with 12 million cardholders, slid to 7 million last year and is now at 6 million.
Jiffy Lube's new service gets $10 mil ad push
Jiffy Lube International last week started a $10 million multimedia campaign, its first work from the Richards Group, Dallas. The advertising, including two humorous 30-second TV spots and a series of radio commercials, compares cars that get the chain's new Signature Service every 3,000 miles to cars that don't. The tag is "Does your car get it?" The campaign started with a monthlong media buy that includes national late night and cable TV, plus spot TV in more than 20 markets. The advertising will resume in summer and again in fall. Smith Advertising, Kansas City, Mo., resigned Jiffy Lube's account last year.
CN's `Details' falters; `AD' gets Latin edition
Details, Conde Nast Publications' bet to capture the young men's market, will close as a monthly consumer title and be subsumed by sibling Advance Publications division Fairchild Publications. The magazine will suspend publication for four months during the transition and re-emerge in October as the consumer title for men's fashion trade DNR, resembling how women's trade WWD and W operate. Fairchild Editorial Director Patrick McCarthy will assume responsibility for editorial content of Details, while Fairchild President-CEO Mary Berner takes over the business operations. Mark Golan, the former Maxim editor lured a year ago to shore up Details' circulation, will leave the company. The magazine missed its 550,000 rate base for the last six months of 1999, when total circulation reached only 541,710, according to Audit Bureau of Circulations figures. Publisher Linda Mason will stay with Conde Nast; her new role will be announced later. Conde Nast Chairman Si Newhouse Jr. purchased Details in January 1988. Separately, Conde Nast and Ideas Publishing Group, Miami, will launch in May Architectural Digest en Espanol. The monthly will circulate in the U.S. and 19 Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America. The joint venture also publishes Glamour en Espanol and Vogue en Espanol
Miller to hold onto `Vibe,' 2 other music magazines
Miller Publishing Group decided to hold onto Blaze, Spin and Vibe after exploring a sale of its music magazines, President-CEO Robert Miller said. Mr. Miller and his financial partner, Freeman Spogli & Co., didn't get an offer that was compelling enough to commit to a sale, said a person close to the situation. Freeman Spogli agreed to stay on as a partner and commit funds to develop the brands on the Internet. Renowned musician Quincy Jones, co-founder of Vibe, and his partner David Salzman also will remain on board.
PlanetOut to acquire gay-oriented publisher
PlanetOut, an Internet portal for the gay community, will acquire Liberation Publications, a publisher of gay and lesbian periodicals and books, for about $30 million in cash and stock. The deal includes every-other-weekly The Advocate. Liberation also will soon close a deal to acquire monthly lifestyle title Out. PlanetOut (planetout.com) has partnerships with America Online, Netscape and Yahoo!, as well as advertising agreements with Arista Records, Johnson & Johnson and Virgin Atlantic Airways.
P&G puts commercial oils on block to focus on Crisco
Procter & Gamble Co. will seek buyers for its commercial shortening and oil products, which include the Frymax, Sterling and Whirl brands, in favor of building Crisco in both retail and commercial settings. The effort is part of P&G's strategy to invest behind its global brands, among them Crisco, Febreze and Pringles. P&G said it will continue to invest in Crisco, on which it spent $1.5 million in media for the first 11 months of 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. Grey Advertising, New York, handles.
Reuters campaign targets online private investors
Reuters on March 22 launched a branding campaign that includes the news service's first TV advertising. The push, with initial spending of $22.3 million, promotes a new Internet business strategy targeting online private investors. "We believe there will be 65 million people managing their personal finances on the Internet," said Jean-Claude Marchand, Reuters executive director-group marketing director. "They will be looking for a brand that is global, fast, expert in financial markets and above all trustworthy. . . . The Internet is now opening the way for Reuters also to help private investors become better informed in making crucial decisions. The new advertising campaign makes Reuters relevant to these new audiences." The campaign was announced at Reuters Infoworld, a biennial exhibition in Geneva of Reuters products and new technologies. Print advertising will run in the U.S., as well as Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the U.K. The TV spot will run in the U.S. and U.K. BMP DDB, London, handles.