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Sony Ericsson taps Saatchi for global biz

[new york] Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications awarded its global creative account to Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, London, according to executives familiar with the review. Sony Ericsson spokespeople, however, said the company has not yet selected an ad agency. According to TNS Media Intelligence, the marketer spent $4.2 million on U.S. media in 2005, but executives' global estimates vary widely. The previous agency was Publicis Groupe's Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Other contenders were the London offices of Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Worldgroup and Publicis Groupe's Publicis Worldwide. Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide dropped out a few weeks ago, said executives familiar with the review.

Mars appoints Del Monte vet to lead snack unit

[Hackettstown, n.j.] Mars has named former Del Monte Foods executive Todd Lachman to head its U.S. snack-food unit, a division that has shown gains in the months since Mars North America President Bob Gamgort took the reigns from Martyn Wilks. Mr. Lachman, 42, a Procter & Gamble alum credited with running H.J. Heinz Co.'s fast-growing pet-snacks business, most recently served as exec VP at Del Monte with oversight of brands including Star-Kist, Kibbles 'n Bits and 9Lives.

USA Network U.S. Open ratings up from last year

[New York] Going into the last weekend of the U.S. Open semifinals, USA Network's ratings were pacing 14% ahead of last year's, with a 0.8 total viewer live rating, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. Most of CBS's coverage hadn't aired yet at press time; it did broadcast Sept. 1 and 2, and snared the tournament's highest rating so far with a 2.6 on Sunday, Sept. 3, the day of Andre Agassi's last match.

Chrysler pulls plug on panned Dr. Z ads

[Auburn Hills, Mich.] Chrysler Group said it has stopped airing its widely panned, offbeat "Dr. Z" TV commercials featuring DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche. A spokeswoman said the carmaker "is shifting some of our focus" on product launches and clearing 2006 model inventory. "We are reviewing our plans for the next phase of the Dr. Z campaign," she said.

Retail spending expected to level off in September

[Columbus, ohio] Retail spending will moderate slightly in September, according to Retail Forward's monthly survey of 4,000 households. "Consumers appear to be in a holding pattern," said Steve Spiwak, an economist at the Columbus retail firm. "Downmarket households in particular have become more pessimistic about job prospects." Despite the pessimism in low-income households, Wal-Mart won the survey's retailing popularity contest, with 35% of consumers ranking it as the best overall shopping experience, compared to 25% at Target.

Senate Democrats' bill backs tobacco ruling

[washington] Several Senate Democrats last week introduced the "Truth in Cigarette Labeling" bill, asking their colleagues to back the court ruling that banned the use of cigarette labels such as "low tar" and "light." U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler said those labels are misleading. Tobacco companies are appealing. The bill was introduced by Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and has no GOP co-sponsors. Other Democratic co-sponsors included Hillary Clinton of New York, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.

Finalists named for biz-advertising awards

[new york] Finalists for American Business Media's 11th annual Creative Excellence in Business Advertising spanned the industry from independent agencies and in-house efforts to agencies owned by the largest holding companies. Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, Omnicom's Martin/Williams and independent HSR Business to Business were the only agencies nominated for two awards. Finalists for the campaign for a marketer with an annual media budget of over $100,000 were independent DeVito/Verdi for the Radio Advertising Bureau, Fallon for Nuveen Investments and independent Wieden & Kennedy New York for ESPN. Digital finalists included HSR Business to Business for Eclipse Aviation, OgilvyOne Worldwide for IBM and Universal McCann for Microsoft. The in-house work of Time Inc., Lucas Films, Variety, Inc. and Discovery Communications was also nominated. Shameless plug: Ad Age Group, Crain's New York Business and Crain's Chicago Business all have ads nominated. The ceremony will be held Sept. 20 in New York.

Interactive-shop merger creates indie powerhouse

[Chicago] In a merger that creates one of the three largest independent interactive agencies, Chicago-based WhittmanHart Interactive-the No. 26 interactive agency on Ad Age's top-50 list-has acquired Los Angeles-based DNA Studio-No. 46 in the same ranking. The merger gives Midwestern WH, best known for functional-if-not-flashy websites for large clients such as Harley-Davidson, Moen and Bank of America, a West Coast presence and some Hollywood flash. DNA Studios' client list includes Anheuser-Busch flagship Bud Light and major movie sites, including work for the Harry Potter and James Bond franchises.

FYI ...

TBWA Worldwide Vice Chairman Tom Carroll has picked up 50% of Jean-Marie Dru's title, and is now president of TBWA Worldwide. Mr. Dru goes forth simply as CEO of the worldwide operation. ... Arby's Restaurant Group named Cheryl Barre chief marketing officer and president of its franchisee association, from VP-retail marketing for Georgia-Pacific Corp. She succeeds Debbie Pike, who earlier announced her retirement. ... H.J. Heinz Co. said investor Nelson Peltz and INOV8 Beverage Co. Chairman Michael F. Weinstein were elected to the Heinz board. The elections came after a long proxy fight with Mr. Peltz and his Trian Group, which had nominated five board members. Trian said in a statement it would work "productively" with the other Heinz board members as well as Heinz management and employees to "reinvigorate Heinz and unlock the full value of its iconic brands."
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