[brussels, belgium] Becks beer has dumped Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett for Ground Zero. The German beer, which has seen U.S. sales decline nearly 6% since 2000, a period when imports overall are up about 28%, transferred its global creative duties to Ground Zero, but left U.S. creative with Burnett. The win was significant for Ground Zero, a shop with about 60 employees and $95 million in billings. Billings were undisclosed, but InBev spent $19.3 million on measured media in the U.S. for Beck's during 2005, and $2.6 million during the first quarter, according to CMR.
ABC to brand all sports with ESPN
[new york] Sports programming on ABC TV Network will now be identified under the ESPN brand, Walt Disney Co. announced late last week. All sports content on ABC will have the on-air look, graphics and branding of ESPN. ABC airs the NBA Finals, the Indy 500, the British Open, the World Cup and, in 2007, Nascar's Nextel Cup. "ESPN on ABC" will debut Sept. 2 when ABC launches its Saturday night college football programming.
Sonic signs deal as 'Nashville Star' sponsor
[oklahoma city] Sonic Corp. has signed an upfront deal as presenting sponsor for the fifth season of USA Network's "Nashville Star." It is the first type of national sponsorship for Sonic and includes the drive-in chain's logo in the show logo as "presented by Sonic." The restaurant brand will be integrated into the show through signage at auditions, on-air through cups and other elements, product sampling at auditions, custom integrated promotional spots on USA Networks and NBC properties and exclusive internet presence. Terms weren't disclosed.
Omnicom acquires Rodgers Townsend
[new york] Omnicom Group acquired independent Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis, a 10-year-old agency probably best known for its work on AT&T. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Other clients include Energizer, The Hartford and Monsanto. On AT&T, Rodgers Townsend teams with Omnicom agency GSD&M, Austin, Texas.
H3 spot tries to get people thinking smaller
[detroit] The new marketing director of Hummer, Megan Stooke, hopes a series of TV spots from Modernista, Boston, breaking tonight and online video banner ads will dispel misperceptions that the year-old H3 SUV is bigger and costlier than it really is. She said 70% of H3 sales are new to General Motors Corp., with a third of them coming from Jeep. She said she's trying to grow that base of conquests. All Hummer sales through July, fueled by the H3, rose 60% to 37,786 units vs. a year ago.
FourA's asks Nielsen for commercial-ratings plans
[new york] The American Association of Advertising Agencies has written to Nielsen Media Research asking it to lay out its future plans with regard to commercial ratings. The 4A's is concerned about how the debate surrounding the potential new currency is playing out. The 4A's wants to see any new commercial-minute data accredited by the Media Ratings Council and wants Nielsen to strip out VCR recording from the proposed "average commercial rating." Nielsen ratings include VCR playback even though it is not identified. The body also wants Nielsen to evaluate various industry definitions of a commercial minute.
NAD refers Dyson's Hoover complaint to FTC
[san francisco] The Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division has sent to the Federal Trade Commission a complaint from Dyson, about Hoover Co.'s WindTunnel and Fusion Upright Vacuum advertising, which claims the appliances don't lose suction. In April, the NAD, the advertising industry's self-regulatory forum, recommended that Hoover modify or discontinue the claims. In referring Dyson's complaint to the FTC for possible federal law-enforcement action, the NAD said Hoover did modify the "No Loss of Suction" claim with a disclosure that stated "Vacuum cleaner suction tests do not represent carpet cleaning ability." The NAD, however, said in a statement it "remains concerned about the truth and accuracy of advertising for the Fusion vacuum cleaner."
TBWA's Blessington moves to Wieden
[portland, ore.] Tom Blessington, 44, head of the Nissan and Infiniti acocunts at TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa Del Rey, Calif., is moving to the new position of managing director of the Portland, Ore., office of Wieden & Kennedy, the company said in a statement.
Former Wal-Mart exec receives sentence, fine
[fort smith, ark.] Thomas Coughlin, Wal-Mart Stores' former vice-chairman who in January admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from the retailer, was sentenced Aug. 11 in federal court to 27 months of home confinement, five years of probation and $450,000 in fines and restitution. He faced up to 28 years in prison and $1.3 million in fines after pleading guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion.
ABC taps Arenas as first Hispanic shop
[new york] ABC hired its first U.S. Hispanic agency, Arenas, Beverly Hills, Calif., to handle strategy, creative work and media planning and buying targeting the U.S. Hispanic market.