Baby boomer Web site debuts $30 mil campaign
Baby boomer Web site ThirdAge.com on Feb. 22 debuted a $30 million campaign featuring national print ads and TV commercials in the top eight wired markets. The first commercial in the campaign from Citron Haligman Bedecarre, San Francisco, uses memorable images from boomers' youth: a child running through a field at Woodstock, an astronaut on the moon, Martin Luther King Jr., and icons such as the Hula Hoop and a women's lib sign. The spot then fast-forwards to images of contemporary people in their "Third Age."
Lycos gives $45 mil Euro media account to Carat
Lycos Europe awarded its estimated $45 million media account to Carat, Hamburg, after a pitch that also involved MindShare, Frankfurt, and MediaCom, Duesseldorf. MindShare previously had done some limited work for the Internet search engine. With the win, Carat strengthens its relationship with German media giant Bertelsmann, which owns 25.5% of Lycos Europe. Earlier this year, Carat won the business of BMG, Bertelsmann's music operation. Carat is thought to be chasing business for Bertelsmann's online book shop Bol.com.
Ford on March 8 breaks new live spots for Focus
Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division on March 8 launches a second flight of live TV spots for the entry-level Focus car. No celebrity succeeds Annabelle Gurwitch, co-host of TBS' "Dinner & a Movie," who starred in the spots from J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, from September until early November. Ford last fall promised a new look in the 2000 spots but has had no comment on specifics. The carmaker was criticized for the first round of commercials, but responded that network rules requiring 24-hour notice of scripts led to the lack of spontaneity in the live advertising. The new TV spots also will have an interactive element.
Nestle to acquire top player in nutrition bars
Nestle USA plans to acquire energy and nutrition bar leader PowerBar. The merger between Nestle and PowerBar, whose sales totaled $142 million in 1999, follows Kraft Foods' acquisition of the $100 million Balance Bar Co. franchise and recent entries into the growing $500 million segment from Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade and McNeil Consumer Products Co.'s Benecol. No plans have been laid yet to change PowerBar's 2000 marketing effort, which include a $30 million TV, print and radio campaign from agency of record Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore. That advertising continues the brand's "Don't bonk" theme. PowerBar had resisted offers in the past, hoping instead to take the company public on its own. But the changing landscape of the category prompted top executives to reconsider, a company spokeswoman said.
Disney's Murphy takes Rodale president post
Steven Murphy is moving to Rodale Inc. in the post of president-chief operating officer. Mr. Murphy, 45, joins Rodale April 3 from Disney Publishing Worldwide, where he was exec VP-managing director. At Rodale, Mr. Murphy succeeds Robert Teufel, who's retiring after more than 20 years at the family-run publisher, whose magazines include Prevention and Men's Health. Other candidates to succeed Mr. Teufel included John Griffin, who resigned as president of Rodale's magazine division last month after it became apparent that he wouldn't get the job (AA, Jan. 31), and David Steward, a former Martha Stewart Living and TV Guide executive.
Storck plans TV effort for new Ice Fresh candy
Storck USA, as part of an overall increase in ad spending, will launch a $6 million TV campaign in April for its new Ice Fresh hard candy. The ads from Pahnke & Partners, Hamburg, feature two Eskimos in the desert unable to decide whether the new combination mint/fruit candy is "fresh" or "delicious." Finally, they dub it "Frelicious!" Earlier this year, Storck launched new TV advertising for its Riesen brand.
Lowe Lintas merges two direct agencies
Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, launched Lowe Lintas Direct, the result of a merger of Lowe Fox Pavlika and APL Direct. The new subsidiary of Lowe Lintas & Partners will cover direct and retail marketing as well as database management. Lowe Lintas Direct begins with 100 employees and $250 million in billings. Lowe said the unit will be among the country's 15 largest direct marketing agencies. Daniel Flamberg, 46, will be managing director, after previously heading APL Direct. Lowe said Holly Pavlika, exec VP-executive creative director at Lowe Fox Pavlika, is leaving to pursue other interests.
Excite@Home, Dow Jones joining to form Work.com
Excite@Home and Dow Jones & Co. are forming a joint company called Work.com, which will provide content and services for small and midsize businesses. Dow Jones and Excite@Home will each own half of the new company, and are planning an initial public offering for Work.com's minority shares later this year, pending market and business conditions. Last year, Dow Jones and Excite kicked off sites aimed at the small business market. Dow Jones launched dowjones.com and Excite@Home's business-to-business division @Work opened Work.com. The combined site, which unites Excite@Home's Web hosting and application services with Dow Jones' editorial content, will launch later this year.
Gillette ponders future of its Braun appliances
Gillette Co. hired J.P. Morgan & Co. to review strategic alternatives for its Braun appliance business, except its hair removal and dental-care lines. Gillette had been rumored since last year to be seeking buyers for its stationery and Braun units so that the company can concentrate on the better-performing razor and toiletries businesses, and improve its overall financial results. Earlier this month, Gillette confirmed it had hired Merrill Lynch & Co. to review alternatives for its stationery products unit, which markets Liquid Paper correction products and Parker and Paper Mate pens.
Agencies finish 1999 with solid profit gains
Advertising companies wrapped up the 1999 in grand style, with fourth-quarter profit increases firmly in the double digits:
* Omnicom Group, New York -Fourth-quarter net income soared 41% over a year ago to $119.9 million, on a 19% increase in worldwide revenue from commissions and fees to $1.5 billion. Yearend results: net income up 30% to $362.9 million, worldwide revenue up 20% to $5.13 billion.
* Interpublic Group of Cos.-Net income climbed 22% for the fourth quarter, hitting $130.1 million. Gross income for the period also rose 22%, to $1.5 billion. Gross income from domestic operations climbed 26%, while international operations rose 19%. Interpublic's agency systems gained net new business of about $295 million, up 17% from the same period in 1998. Yearend results: net income up 21% to $373.4 million, gross income up 15% to $4.6 billion; gross income from domestic operations up 19%, from international up 11%. Interpublic's agency systems picked up $1.8 billion in net new business during 1999, up 26% over '98 gains.
* Young & Rubicam-Fourth-quarter net income of $34.4 million was up 20.6% over a year ago. Revenue climbed 14.9% to $490.5 million. Net new billings exceeded $400 million for the quarter and reached $1.2 billion for all of 1999. Yearend results: net income up 22.8% to $116.1 million, revenue up 12.8% to $1.72 billion.
* Valassis Communications, Livonia, Mich.-The free-standing insert specialist saw fourth-quarter net earnings more than triple over a year ago, hitting $25.9 million. Revenue was up 5.4% to $199.9 million. The company's flagship FSI division saw revenue rise 0.5% for the quarter and 3.3% for the full year. Valassis also said its test of Save.com Internet coupons was a success, and plans to launch it nationally in second quarter 2000. Yearend Valassis results: net earnings up 61.6% to $114.2 million, revenue up 7.2% to $794.6 million.