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NBC's Olympics ratings deliver

Through feb. 12, NBC's "2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics" nightly average climbed to a healthy Nielsen Media Research 19.8 rating/31 share. The Feb 12 night's Olympic telecast delivered an 18.5/29, which was down slightly from Feb. 11, with a big 19.3/27. NBC earned a 17.1/30 on the night of Feb. 9, and then a slightly better 17.6/27 on Feb. 10. A share is a percentage of TV households that have their TV sets on at a given time. A rating is a percentage of all TV households, whether their sets are turned on or not. The event's opening ceremonies posted a 25.5 rating/42 share, the highest rated opening ceremony. These numbers are better than CBS's 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. But this was expected since Winter Olympics held in the U.S. generally post better ratings. Advertisers bought commercial time with an average 17 household rating, according to advertising executives. NBC says it will make about $60 million on these games; it sold about $720 million in total advertising revenue. QwikFIND aan16g

Oh, just finish your chocolate fries

H.J. Heinz Co.'s new Funky Fries have nutritionists in a funk. The announcement last week that the company's Ore-Ida unit will debut a line of kid-targeted fries (including Cinna-Sticks, Cocoa Crispers and Kool Blue varieties) in May sparked protests from those concerned with childhood obesity. "Kids don't understand nutrition, and it's not very surprising that if you ask them what they like, they like french fries and chocolate," said Barbara Rolls, professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. But french fries already account for most of the vegetable consumption of kids in the U.S., she said, and the new products will make it even harder for parents trying to convince kids to eat healthy. "Heinz is no different than other food companies that just want their share of the consumer stomach. The question is, how big are we going to make those stomachs?" A Heinz spokesman said there are numerous factors contributing to childhood obesity and that the products are intended to be part of a balanced diet. No marketing plans were announced.

Qwest on an agency quest

Qwest Communications confirmed the launch of an agency review for its estimated $100 million business. The company wants to consolidate its account, currently at two agencies: WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, New York, for corporate brand image, and Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, for retail and local market advertising. A Qwest spokeswoman declined to comment on details of the review. In addition to the incumbents, agencies participating in the review are Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide and sibling shop McCann-Erickson Worldwide, both New York, and Bcom3 Group's LB Works, Chicago, (formerly Leo Burnett Technology Group) and possibly other agencies, according to people familiar with the matter. According to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, Qwest spent $81.7 million in measured media for the first 10 months of 2001. The company spent $157.8 million in the U.S. in 2000. QwikFIND aan16o

Morgan Stanley plans global ads

Morgan Stanley will break a global branding campaign in March, after consolidating its global advertising account with Bcom3's Leo Burnett Co., Chicago. Burnett, which previously handled its U.S. individual-investor and mutual-funds business, is currently working on a global branding campaign which brings together all of Morgan Stanley's businesses, said Tim O'Day, VP-account director. Morgan Stanley spent $67 million in U.S. media in the first 10 months of 2001, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. QwikFIND aan17b

O'Connor, former Ayer CEO, dies

Neal w. o'connor, a former N.W. Ayer president-CEO, died Jan. 18. He was 76. In 1949, Mr. O'Connor joined Ayer as a junior account executive. He was promoted to president in 1964, becoming at the time the youngest-ever president of a major U.S. agency. During his tenure, he moved the Philadelphia-based Ayer to New York, and thus greatly raised the agency's profile. In 1966, he was promoted to CEO. Mr. O'Connor served as chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies from 1975 to 1976. He retired in 1980.

Dolobowsky, agency vet, dies

Robert dolobowsky, 75, one of the founders of now-shuttered agency Warren, Muller, Dolobowsky, died last month. In 1971, Mr. Dolobowsky cast himself as pitchman for his client, Stay Dry antiperspirant. In the ad, Mr. Dolobowsky asserted no antiperspirant can keep you dry, "not even ours" and ended with, "The one thing not altogether true is our name, Stay Dry. Probably should be Stay-Dry-er, cause that's what we really help you do-stay drier and that's the truth." Earlier in his career, he worked at Esquire, NBC and Grey Advertising. He ended his career as a consultant.


The davenport, Iowa-based newspaper company Lee Enterprises announced Feb. 12 it had agreed to purchase Howard Publications' 16 daily newspapers for $694 million in cash and debt. The price represents a multiple of 14.1 times Howard's fiscal `01 earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization. ... Home Depot, struggling to meet Wall Street's building sales expectations, has begun to remodel marketing with a direct review. Contenders for the estimated $8 million to $10 million account include Havas Advertising's Brann Worldwide, Baltimore and Toronto; and Interpublic siblings DraftWorldwide, Chicago, and Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich. ... Walgreen Co. became the first national chain to sign an agreement negotiated by 40 state attorneys general that limits not only store placement of cigarettes but also promotional signs in stores.

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