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This Bud's ad budget is for you

Anheuser-busch co.'s 2003 marketing budget will see a small increase next year, according to Randy Baker, chief financial officer. Marketing helped the world's largest brewer raise prices, which boosted financial results, he said. The company began to increase prices in October and will do so again in the first quarter of next year. A-B spent $1.8 billion on marketing, distribution and administration expenses in the first nine months of this year, compared with last year's $1.6 billion-an 8% increase, according to quarterly statements released last week. Despite a successful introduction of premium alternative malt beverage Bacardi Silver, Mr. Baker said the category appears to have peaked. He declined to say what A-B would spend on Bacardi Silver next year, other than "what is necessary based on the competitive situation." Separately, Mr. Baker said the recent launch of the high-end, low-carbohydrate Michelob Ultra had exceeded expectations, adding it had more female followers and was skewing younger than A-B's other products. QwikFIND aao14g

Volvo ads star Elvis, Nessie knockoffs

Ford motor Co.'s Volvo Cars of North America launches its first sport utility, the XC90, with a :60 that will arrive in movie theaters in early November. The spot from Havas' Euro RSCG MVBMS Partners, New York, will only air in cinemas. Family members traveling in deserted locations inside the XC90 see extraordinary things-a Loch Ness monster, a unicorn and Elvis. "To the list of things you've always hoped you'd see, add one more-an SUV from Volvo," the narrator says. Volvo said it expects XC90 buyers to be about 45 years old, 55% male, with a median household income of $145,000. And they already own three or more vehicles. The SUV ranges in price from $33,350 to $40,600. See the spot: QwikFIND aao14e

IPG reassigns Bell; LaGreca to leave

David bell, named in July 2001 as head of Interpublic Group of Cos.' operating division the Partnership is taking on new responsibilities within another Interpublic operating unit, Advanced Marketing Services, according to knowledgeable executives. Mr. Bell's title and scope of oversight is unknown, and an Interpublic spokesman had no comment. Larry Weber heads Advanced Marketing Services. At McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, also an Interpublic operating unit, Salvatore LaGreca, vice chairman-finance and operations, will leave the company. A McCann-Erickson spokeswoman said Mr. LaGreca, 49, will depart in the first quarter of next year to "pursue other interests." He joined McCann-Erickson in 1994 from Interpublic, where he was a controller. The move follows Interpublic's Oct. 16 forecast of lower earnings and intent to restate earnings downward for the past five years by as much as $120 million before taxes. Asked whether Mr. LaGreca's departure is related to Interpublic financial difficulties, a McCann spokeswoman declined to comment. QwikFIND aao14m

Sixth guilty plea in bid-rigging probe

James rattoballi, president of Print Technical Group, a New York provider of print-brokerage services, pleaded guilty Oct. 23 to one count of rigging bids and allocating contracts and one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Rattoballi sold printing services to Grey Global Group's Grey Advertising, New York, through a New York printing company he co-owned as well as through two other firms he represented as a salesperson. According to court papers, Mr. Rattoballi paid Grey's former Exec VP-Graphic Services Mitchell Mosallem "kickbacks ... such as clothing, limousine service and airline tickets" to ensure that the firms Mr. Rattoballi represented were put on a list of Grey's approved vendors. Mr. Rattoballi is the sixth person to plead guilty in the case revolving around Grey, which is at the center of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation. QwikFIND aao14b

Tequila to fold in Martin Williams

Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day's Tequila direct, interactive and promotions unit named a new chief strategic officer. Ian J. Baer, 36, who served as exec VP-director, directDeutsch, part of Interpublic's Deutsch, Los Angeles, for more than a year, next month takes on the newly created post for Tequila North America. Tequila, meanwhile, currently headquartered in Playa del Rey, Calif., with 140 employees in New York and Toronto, will fold in some 40 employees of sibling Omnicom shop Martin Williams, Minneapolis, said Wes Nichols, president-CEO, Tequila.

Viacom reports strongest-ever 3Q

Viacom reported the best third quarter in its history, according to Chairman-CEO Sumner Redstone. The broadcast company last week reported record results, backed by strong TV advertising and improvements in radio and outdoor. The parent of the CBS and UPN networks and Infinity radio chain posted $640.3 million in net income for the quarter, compared to a net loss of $190.4 million a year ago. Revenues increased 10% to $6.3 billion, thanks to a 14% increase in advertising revenue. Mr. Redstone noted that, besides the strength of the CBS network, the company's radio properties showed improvement and its outdoor unit posted positive results for the first time since the last quarter of 2000. QwikFIND aao14k


Robert mondavi winery launches an estimated $15 million broadcast, print and Internet campaign for its Woodbridge brands. The campaign is the first from its new agency, Richards Group, Dallas. QwikFIND aao14f ... Hyundai Motor America named URi, Los Angeles, as agency of record for its Asian American account estimated at $3 million.

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