WPP OKS BONUS SETUP FOR SORRELL, OTHER TOP EXECS

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WPP Group, London, approved a new bonus package for Chief Executive Martin Sorrell and 14 other of the most senior executives of the holding company and its operating companies. At an extraordinary general meeting Sept. 2, a little more than 94% of the votes cast were in favor of the new package. To participate, the 15 executives must buy $20 million in WPP shares under an incentive plan that in five years could award them $100 million worth of shares at current prices if the company hits certain performance targets relative to 15 competitors. Depending on WPP's share price then, the payout could be lower than $100 million or higher. Since Mr. Sorrell is investing $10 million, he could receive $50 million in shares at current prices. Under the past five years of Mr. Sorrell's stewardship, WPP's share price has increased fivefold.

S. Calif. Mercedes-Benz dealers tap Merkley

Mercedes-Benz Retailers of Southern California picked Merkley Newman Harty, New York, to handle the dealer group's $18 million account. Ground Zero, Santa Monica, Calif., was the other finalist, said one person familiar with the search, but dealers favored Merkley because it handles Mercedes-Benz USA. WongDoody, Santa Monica, and Townsend & O'Leary, Irvine, also were on the short list. Yellow Card (formerly Doig Elliot Schurr), New York, was the previous agency.

Speed Stick Clear gets $25 mil launch

Colgate-Palmolive Co. will spend $25 million to launch a clear extension of Speed Stick antiperspirant. The campaign from Y&R Advertising and Hispanic shop Siboney USA, both New York, will back Speed Stick Clear Stick with TV and print advertising, in-store displays and couponing. Speed Stick Clear began shipping to stores late last month, and the advertising will break later in the fall.

Sears' Cohen tackles apparel problems

Sears, Roebuck & Co., struggling to deliver its softer side to customers with more fashionable merchandise, named Mark Cohen, 50, president of softlines, a new post responsible for apparel, footwear and home fashions. Those categories used to be overseen by Robert Mettler, president of merchandising for full-line stores. Mr. Mettler has left the company, and that title has been eliminated. Mr. Cohen will retain responsibility for marketing of all Sears retail stores. He took over as Sears exec VP-marketing in January and last month launched a new branding effort for the retailer under the tag "The good life at a great price. Guaranteed" (AA, Aug. 31). Industry analysts said Sears was not just losing out to stiff competition from discounters and specialty stores but also was troubled by its own inability to provide compelling apparel to back its ad message.

Furby family grows with addition of 6 Babies

Even as doubt swirled last week about the fate of Ty Inc.'s Beanie Babies (see story on Page 1), another popular toy was adding to its brood. Hasbro's Tiger Electronics unveiled its latest Furby line extension -- a half-dozen Furby Babies. The petite, pastel, speaking toys were introduced at a Toys "R" Us in New York, and will be rolled out to retailers over the next several weeks. Posnick & Kolker, New York, is handling an ad and promotional campaign.

Belluzzo to oversee M'soft consumer unit

Microsoft Corp., as expected, named Richard Belluzzo group VP of its fledgling Consumer & Commerce Division, reporting directly to Microsoft President Steve Ballmer. Mr. Belluzzo, former chairman-CEO of Silicon Graphics and a veteran of Hewlett-Packard Co.'s printer business, was brought in to rev Microsoft's Internet businesses, amid speculation that Microsoft will start sprucing up these properties to spin them off.

CDW expands target with $5 mil campaign

CDW Computer Centers launched the latest phase of its corporate branding campaign. The $4 million to $5 million effort includes business print and six new cable spots from Donino, White & Partners, Atlanta. The commercials take a humorous approach and expand CDW's typical CIO professional target to include information technology managers and small business owners looking for PC hardware solutions and services.

Online financial sites break radio commercials

Net.B@nk today launches a national radio campaign. The advertising from USWeb/CKS, San Francisco, follows print and online efforts for the online bank, all with the tagline "So, why aren't you netbanking?" Budget wasn't disclosed, but Net.B@nk spent $300,000 from January through May, according to Competitive Media Reporting. On Aug. 30, personal bill management company PayMyBills.com broke a new campaign in San Francisco and New York. The advertising, created by Asher & Partners, Los Angeles, will roll out later to other major U.S. urban markets. The radio work features the voice of soul musician Isaac Hayes and "NYPD Blue" actress Andrea Thompson. Quirky print ads take a knowing tone with messages such as "Tiny green monkeys are eating your toes. We'll pay your psychiatrist bills" and "College is completely useless. We'll pay your student

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