The Week

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RJR saves smokes from smush

R .J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. plans an April launch of Winston EVO Flask, the first dramatic cigarette-pack redesign in 30 years. The smokes from the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings unit will come in silver-and-black plastic packs resembling flasks-curved, and wider and thinner than traditional cigarette boxes to fit better in pockets and not be crushed. Ads from Gyro Worldwide, Philadelphia, continuing Winston's "no boundaries, no bull" positioning, will accompany the cigarette launch. The premium-price EVO Flask will not be discounted at retail like many other cigarette brands. Discounting has become a common practice by Big Tobacco in an effort to remain competitive as smaller cigarette makers market deeply discounted smokes. First reported on QwikFIND aan12l

But will the green still be as popular?

Masterfoods usa's $45 million "Global Color Vote" promotion for M&M's got off to a surprisingly good start last week when America Online staged an impromptu poll of its members to determine if pink, purple or aqua should be the next color of the chocolate candies. The integrated effort, to include advertising, PR, in-store promotions, event marketing and online, is not set to kick off until March 6, but already more than 500,000 people have voted-over half of them for purple. While 10 million people voted during Masterfoods' 1995 nationwide poll to determine what color would replace tan (blue eventually won out), a company spokesman said this time its Internet site,, is expected to drive far greater numbers worldwide. Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide handles advertising. QwikFIND aan11z

Publicis' creative downsizing

It was a bad week for creatives in Publicis Groupe shops. Seth Werner, 47, president-chief creative officer for Publicis in Mid America, Dallas, will step down as his employment contract was not renewed, a spokeswoman confirmed. She said the role was redundant and no longer practical during the lean economy. Separately, client cutbacks forced, Fallon, New York, to cut 20 employees, including all creative staff, except for Executive Creative Director Kevin Roddy. The move followed a massive spending drop by anchor client Conseco, which an executive with knowledge of the move said trimmed 90% of its budget. QwikFIND aan11y

Nabisco boosts Kraft's growth

Kraft foods' stock rallied last week after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings growth and volume growth of 5.3%. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Dave Nelson attributed the volume performance to "great innovation backed by great marketing," as Kraft has leveraged its top brands such as the Oreo and Ritz franchises it gained with the acquisition of Nabisco. The synergy savings from that acquisition exceeded the $100 million Kraft expected for 2001, helping to drive the earnings growth. The volume rise speaks to the sustainability of that growth, Mr. Nelson said, and is particularly pleasing compared with the "dismal volume growth of other food companies recently," among them Kellogg Co., Sara Lee Corp. and Hershey Foods.

MLB throws work to McCann

Interpublic group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson, New York, steps up to the plate for Major League Baseball's consolidated $25 million account. "We needed someone to help us examine when, where, how and to whom we should be advertising and for what purpose," said MLB VP-Marketing Tim Brosnan, who helped select baseball's new agency of record. "They'll be working on a number of initiatives," he said, including strategy, research and integrated consumer marketing. McCann will also develop communications for MLB's All-Star Game, the Century 21 Home Run Derby and the World Series. Baseball's contract with Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, San Francisco, expired Dec. 31. QwikFIND aan12b

FYI ...

Aol time warner posted a net loss of $1.8 billion for the fourth quarter, and a net loss of $4.9 billion for full-year 2001. Advertisng and commerce-related revenues were down 3% for 2001, with a steep 14% drop in the fourth quarter. Also, AOL Latin America shortlisted four agencies for its $20 million account, to be decided this month: Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett Worldwide, Grey Worldwide, Omnicom's TBWA Worldwide and J. Walter Thompson. Brazil, where the business is with DM9 DDB, accounts for half the billings. Other markets are Mexico, Argentina and Puerto Rico, currently at TBWA, Interpublic's Lowe Worldwide and Leo Burnett respectively. ... VF Corp., Greensboro, N.C., tapped two units of the Kirshenbaum Bond Creative Network, New York, to handle advertising, promotion, in-store, guerilla marketing and design for four lingerie brands for its $5 million account. Joanne Davis Consulting, handled the review. ... Merrill Lynch hired WPP's J. Walter Thompson's Patrick Corry, director-client and business development, to join the financial-services firm's private wealth-management operations. Mr. Corry was head of the Merrill Lynch account at the New York office. ... Pentland Group moved its $5.6 million pan-European account for swimwear brand Speedo, previously handled in-house, to Publicis' Fallon Worldwide, London.

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