WPP Group will ask shareholders next month to replace Arthur Andersen as the company's auditor, as the embattled accounting firm flounders in the wake of the Enron Corp. meltdown. WPP switched to Deloitte & Touche, which acquired part of Andersen's London practice; shareholders will confirm the hiring at WPP's annual general meeting June 24. A WPP spokesman said the decision involved a review process including other international firms, but the key factor was the hiring by Deloitte of a significant number of Andersen's staff. Andersen handles auditing for Omnicom Group, Havas and Bcom3 Group. Omnicom expects to pick a replacement by mid-June. Havas' management is reviewing alternatives, while Bcom3's appointment should become academic in the summer, when it closes its acquisition by Publicis Groupe. AdAge.com QwikFIND aan52g
Clear Channel launches sales unit
Clear channel Communications launched a sales unit last week to facilitate cross-platform advertising deals across the media giant's radio, entertainment, TV and outdoor properties. The group, Clear Channel Advantage, was created by merging the company's local and regional radio sales teams with its local and regional live-music sales teams. Clear Channel, which promotes its live events on its radio stations and vice versa, said it now hopes to leverage that synergy for advertisers. The entertainment division will maintain its national sales and marketing unit. San Antonio-based Clear Channel operates 1,225 radio and 37 TV stations in the U.S. and roughly 776,000 outdoor advertising displays worldwide. AdAge.com QwikFIND aan54z
U.S. Army ads recruit Hispanics
The second phase of the U.S. Army's campaign to target more Hispanic recruits breaks this week. The Army allocates about 15% of its $95 million annual budget to minority advertising, handled by Hispanic agency Cartel Group, San Antonio, and Images USA, Atlanta, an African-American agency. The TV, radio and out-of-home campaign showcases Hispanic soldiers both on the job and in their communities.
ConAgra sells off fresh-meat biz
Conagra foods agreed to transfer the bulk of its fresh beef and pork processing business to a venture led by Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst. The deal is part of ConAgra's strategy to focus on package foods. ConAgra still has extensive agricultural business, said Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Dave Nelson in a note to investors. But the real issue, he added, is "how well they manage packaged foods, and we have not yet been impressed by turnaround efforts to rejuvenate the brand portfolio." ConAgra announced Hunt's Perfect Squeeze, upside-down squeeze packaging for its Hunt's ketchup, that will play directly against category-leader H.J. Heinz Co.'s similarly inverted packaging dubbed Heinz Easy Squeeze.
Net ad revenue declines 7.5%
Internet advertising revenue in the U.S. declined 7.5% in the fourth quarter of 2001 and 12% for the year compared to the dot-com boom of 2000. Net ad revenue for all of 2001 totaled $7.2 billion, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which sponsored the Internet Ad Revenue Report. According to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, the Internet showed an ad-spending drop of 12.4% for the first quarter of this year, but the medium turned positive in March, with an increase of 9.3% over 2001.
`Wallpaper' founder quits
Capping a long run of personnel changes at Time Inc.'s Wallpaper, founder and editorial director Tyler Brule left May 21. He will be replaced by Teen People founder Christina Ferrari. Paul de Zwart, Wallpaper VP-general manager, left earlier this year; more recently, creative director Ariel Childs and top interiors editor Kelly Russell departed. Mr. Brule will focus on his Time Inc.-owned creative consultancy Wink. Two persons involved in the situation said Wallpaper explored the possibility of a management buyout of its Time Inc. contract last summer. A Time Inc. spokesman declined to comment.
Pepsico's pepsi-cola co. this week launches a diet version of its Mountain Dew Code Red. National advertising is expected. Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles advertising for most of Pepsi-Cola's carbonated soft drinks AdAge.com QwikFIND aan55a. ... The Justice Department abandoned a deal with the Federal Trade Commission that would have rearranged antitrust oversight of media mergers, with the FTC ceding control. It is unclear who will oversee those mergers now... Legislation that could subject drug makers to fines of up to $10 million for misleading advertising was introduced by Reps. Tom Allen, D-Maine, and Marion Berry, D-Ark. Fines would only be imposed on companies that didn't act within six months of being notified. The Pharmaecuetical Research & Manufacturers of America said the change is unnecessary.... Ziff Davis Media closed its Net Economy trade title and merged assets with Advanstar telecom magazine American Network. ... New York Post Publisher Ken Chandler stepped down. Lachlan Murdoch, son of News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and deputy chief operating officer of the company, will replace him.