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Compaq's new agent of change?

Ex-IBM and NEC exec David Middleton starts today as Compaq's first global marketing & commun. boss (Adages, Feb. 24). So how long till Compaq consolidates at a global agency? The question is being asked at U.S. shop Ammirati Puris Lintas and Europe agency Bates. "Middleton's arrival clearly presages a major slugfest between Ammirati and Bates for global domination," says a media insider. One agency with a rival account is known to be scoping Compaq. Though business is booming, watchers say Compaq is in a period of change across the organization to address shifts in the industry, such as the rise of direct sellers like Dell and re-emergence of IBM. This is the biggest period of introspection since 1991, when then-ailing Compaq reinvented itself, fired O&M and hired APL. Compaq, one watcher says, now has "IBM global brand envy." For the first time, Compaq is looking like a global marketer rather than a confederation of regions. Time is ripe for change in advertising.

A good life for a mad dog

GQ's May issue is smoking with 155 ad pages, up from 90 last May. The reason, says Publisher Richard "Mad Dog" Beckman, is a special themed issue on "The Good Life," celebrating the mag's 40 years and life's little and larger luxuries. This fall, GQ's Man of the Year awards at Radio City Music Hall will air on one of the networks. Among emcees being pursued for the event: Jerry Seinfeld, Rosie O'Donnell, Billy Crystal and Dana Carvey.

Goodby cameras click and clack

Convergence is when computers, consumer electronics and phones come together. Conflict is when an agency can't figure out how to manage overlapping clients. Add one new category to the convergence/conflict continuum: digital cameras. Polaroid and Hewlett- Packard both are entering the market. Each is a $40 million client for Goodby Silverstein. The shop feels it can manage the digital duo but defers formal comment to the clients. While HP will sell cameras, its big play will be scanners and printers that work with multiple brands of digital cameras. HP doesn't see a problem. But word is Polaroid is watching the matter closely. Polaroid's official comment: No comment.

TN settles . . . 501s vs. Gap

Jack Balousek, displaced last June as chairman of True North's TN Technologies, and ex-True North vice chairman Craig Wiggins have accepted settlements from True North and formally exited. . . . Pretzel Boy takes a dunking with Pretzel Flipz, a fudge-coated confection being intro'ed by Nestle under license from Frito-Lay's Rold Gold. Dailey/LA is doing the ads. This is Frito-Lay's second such collaboration; it earlier tested a chocolate-covered pretzel with Nestle rival Hershey. . . . Tom Bedecarre at Citron Haligman Bedecarre/SF is running a pool on how long till new Miller mktg. chief Jack Rooney calls old boss Hal Riney to offer an assignment. . . . Levi Strauss changed the phone prefix at headquarters to "501." Crosstown rival Gap, meanwhile, also has a new prefix: 427, a.k.a. GAP.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Alice Z. Cuneo, Mark Gleason, Laura Petrecca, Judann Pollack, Pat Sloan and Michael Wilke.

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