FCB Worldwide, Chicago, pulled out of J.C. Penney Co.'s $300 million review. FCB said it realized at the first meeting that the agency and Penney couldn't agree on strategy. Still in the bidding for the retailer's account are New York agencies BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, Mc-Cann-Erickson Worldwide and Saatchi & Saatchi. FCB and former Penney agency Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas, are divisions of True North Communications.
Independent DeWitt Media is acquired by Publicis
Publicis, Paris, continued its shopping spree by acquiring independent DeWitt Media, New York. Publicis will combine DeWitt with the existing U.S. operations of its Optimedia International, creating a $1.25 billion U.S. agency to operate under the Optimedia International name. DeWitt has $400 million in billings, and with the acquisitions, Optimedia's global billings reach $6 billion.
Kid-focused MaMaMedia site debuts its first ads
Online children's network MaMaMedia (mamamedia.com) on March 9 unveiled its first TV and print campaign. The $10 million-plus branding effort from Geppetto Group, New York, is directed at 5-to-12-year-olds and their parents. Spots will run on network and cable kid-oriented shows; print will appear in family magazines.
Meredith interactive unit created; 3 titles to close
Meredith Corp. added Meredith Interactive & Integrated Marketing Group to its two other divisions, Publishing and Broadcast. An investment of $100 million is planned for the new unit. As part of the restructuring, Meredith will close Cross Stitch & Needlework and Decorative Woodcrafts with the July-August issues. The company also will close Crayola Kids with the May issue, due to strategic differences with the licensor of the Crayola Kids name, Binney & Smith.
Avon, Roche in deal to sell nutritional supplements
Avon Products signed an agreement with Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Holding AG to distribute a line of nutritional supplements. Avon's representatives will market the products in 15 countries worldwide starting in 2001. Avon estimates the vitamin line will generate $200 million to $300 million in annual revenue within the next five years.
Lighthouse combines six marketing units
Lighthouse Global Network combined its six marketing services companies and rebranded them Communicator, one unit that provides sales promotion, new media, sports marketing, event management and direct marketing. The group will be led by the former Davidson Marketing, Chicago, in the U.S. and Communicator, London. Lighthouse purchased Davidson last year. Also last week, Lighthouse acquired Wang Idea Works, a creative think tank that specializes in providing creative and strategic marketing services for e-businesses. Wang is Lighthouse's 16th acquisition since 1998.
Grey's '99 profits slide; U.K. groups fare better
Grey Advertising, New York, boosted net income for the fourth quarter but suffered a big drop for the full year. Net income of $8.3 million for the quarter was up 27.6% from a year ago. Income from commissions and fees climbed 25% to $316.3 million, as gross billings increased by the same percentage to $2.1 billion. Yearend results: net income $6.4 million, down 75.3% from $25.9 million in 1998; income from commissions and fees up 17.6% to $1.1 billion; gross billings up 14.5% to $7.1 billion.
Several London-based agency networks also reported results last week:
* Aegis, the holding company for global media buying and planning company Carat, said pre-tax profits rose 26% to $102.7 million for 1999. Annualized net wins totaled $1.23 billion, up 57% from 1998.
* Saatchi & Saatchi reported 1999 pre-tax profit rose 4.3% to $57.3 million on 5.4% higher revenue of $633.1 million. Net new business totaled $735 million in annualized billings.
* Cordiant Communications Group said 1999 pre-tax profits grew 32% to $51 million as revenue rose 10% to $544 million. Cordiant, parent of Bates Worldwide, posted net new-business wins of more than $420 million in annualized billings in '99, and more than $100 million in wins during the first two months of 2000.
Also . . .
Newspaper ad spending climbed 5.8% in the fourth quarter, vs. the same period in 1998, to $13.4 billion, according to the Newspaper Association of America. For full year 1999, spending was up 5.4%, topping $46 billion. . . . California Milk Processor Board on March 9 broke its first "Got milk?" spot to feature chocolate milk. The humorous TV commercial from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, ends with the line "Got chocolate milk?" . . . Hain Food Group will acquire specialty tea marketer Celestial Seasonings for more than $300 million in stock. The merger is part of Hain's effort to strengthen its position in the $20 billion natural food market. . . . Satellite radio companies planning to launch in 2001 can now join the Radio Advertising Bureau. The RAB's board decided to allow the new satellite operators to join after considering a request from XM Satellite Radio to be included.