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Data show first drop in ad spending since 2002

[new york] U.S. measured ad spending declined 0.3% in May vs. a year earlier, according to data from TNS Media Intelligence. This was a small slip but it's the first comparable-period monthly decline since the post-recession ad recovery began in May 2002. Spending was depressed by a drop in newspapers and network TV. See chart on P. 8 and story on AdAge.com.

Ford likely to trim ad budget for rest of year

[detroit] Ford Motor Co., which is accelerating its "Way Forward" revitalization plan, is likely to trim its advertising budget for the rest of 2006, experts predicted. The troubled carmaker said Aug. 18 it will cut fourth-quarter North American vehicle production by 21%, or 168,000 units. A spokesman said Ford doesn't plan to trim ad spending for a trio of key Lincoln launches and is beefing up Ford brand's "Bold Move" blitz, but had no further details on ad spending.

Kodak to consolidate $100M media account

[rochester, n.y.] Eastman Kodak Co. is planning to consolidate its $100 million-plus media-buying and -planning account, now spread across several agencies, including Aegis Group's Carat and WPP Group's MindShare. A spokesman for the company said the review, which includes both roster and non-roster agencies, is in early stages. The review is being driven by cost concerns at Kodak, which has struggled as consumer interest in film has diminished with the rise of digital cameras.

Dell sees 51% drop in profit

[round rock, texas] The Dell bad-news spiral continued late last week when it reported a 51% drop in profit, followed by a revelation that the SEC is investigating its books. Analysts said Dell's profit decrease stems mostly from aggressive cost cutting in its bid to maintain market share against competitors like Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. (See related story, P. 10.) Dell CEO Kevin Rollins said the SEC informal investigation was not "material." Both pieces of news came on the heels of Dell's recall of more than 4 million notebook computer batteries with potential overheating problems.

Doctor's Associates sues franchise directors

[milford, conn.] Doctor's Associates, franchisor of Subway Restaurants, has fired back in its legal battle with franchisees. The parent organization filed federal law suits against 11 individual directors of the North American Association of Subway Franchisees. The suits, filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn., aim to take claims asserted in state court by NAASF and force individual board members to fight DAI in arbitration, according to Scott Korzenowski, partner at Dady & Garner, the law firm representing NAASF. Representatives from Doctors' Associates and the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust that manages the fund declined to comment.

FX president defends shows against PTC

[los angeles] John Landgraf, president of FX Network, defended his cable TV's "Rescue Me" show, under fire from the Parents Television Council. In an exclusive interview with Advertising Age, Mr. Landgraf said FX "created the industry standard and has been extraordinarily responsible in how we market the show." He added that "Viewers vote with their remotes" and increasingly are voting for "Rescue Me," which he said has increased viewership by 5% this year vs. last year to 3.6 million 18-to-49-year-old adults weekly.

Fox Broadcasting first to buy radio 'blink'

[new york] Fox Broadcasting Co. is the first to buy Clear Channel Radio's ultra-short "blinks" in an effort to promote its season premiers of "Prison Break," "House" and "The Simpsons." Clear Channel's current definition for a blink is a one- to three-second radio ad. The terms of the deal weren't divulged by either Clear Channel or Fox. Fox Broadcasting plans and buys its media in-house.

McD's deep-sixes full-size fruit salads

[oak brook, ill.] McDonald's is replacing its full-size fruit and walnut salad with smaller, less expensive snack packs, Crain's Chicago Business reports today. The smaller salads contain the same apples, grapes and walnuts with yogurt dressing, according to a memo the company sent franchisees last week. The snack-size fruit-and-walnut packages are already available in Chicago and will replace the full-size version at all McDonald's nationwide next month, the memo states. McDonald's reps did not return calls seeking comment.

Cingular, Sprint settle legal fight over ad claims

[atlanta] Cingular Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. have agreed to drop their legal fight over competing ad claims about network quality, executives at the wireless carriers said. Cingular's ad campaign claimed its network had the "fewest dropped calls," but Sprint Nextel filed a challenge with the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. In response, Cingular sued Sprint in federal court in Atlanta, alleging Sprint's most-powerful-network positioning was "false and misleading." The agreement allows both sides to continue advertising their ad claims going forward, the executives said.

FYI ...

To help launch its Tampico Energy drink, Tampico Beverages has enlisted Eva Longoria to front its Dream of Hope Sweepstakes that starts today. Consumers will have a chance to win tickets and a meeting with the "Desperate Housewives" star. The beverage marketer will use the Sept. 6 fundraising event as the debut for the fruit-flavored, Hispanic-targeted energy drink. ... Pabst Brewing Co.'s multicultural brands, including Colt 45, St. Ides and Schlitz Malt Liquor, to Cole & Weber United, Seattle, for an integrated campaign including non-traditional marketing starting next year. Billings were undisclosed.
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