Panasonic dumps Grey after 2 decades

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Panasonic is dropping WPP's Grey Worldwide after more than two decades despite the dramatic results of Grey's latest campaign for the marketer's plasma TVs. Since the "Ideas for Life" campaign began airing in April, Panasonic's plasma-TV market share has increased from 18% to 55%, according to data from Hall & Partners. The decision to break with Grey is part of the company's ongoing effort to transform its North American operations, said company spokesman Jim Reilly; conversations with a wide range of potential providers are underway. "We've radically increased our promotional budgets for the current fiscal year, and that includes general advertising as well as events, Internet promotion and other activities beyond traditional marketing." In 2004, Panasonic spent $50 million in measured media, and for the first six months of 2005, $24 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence. AdAge.com QwikFIND aar18n

Paris and Nicole live `Simple Life' on E

Paris and Nicole's friendship may have ended, but the same can't be said for their reality show, "The Simple Life." After word that Fox wouldn't renew it, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie's "The Simple Life" has landed at Comcast-owned E Entertainment network.

"Simple Life" had a three-year run on Fox, but the 18-to-49 ratings for the show had slipped from a 5.8 in its first season to a 4.4 last year. Snaring even a fraction of its broadcast ratings would be a coup for E, which has worked to build up its programming pipeline and rebuild its ratings.

Like the previous two seasons of the show, which place the two socialites in fish-out-of-water situations, E's "The Simple Life" will be themed. In "The Simple Life: Housewives" Ms. Richie and Ms. Hilton will each be charged with the domestic chores required to head up a household. AdAge.com QwikFIND aar17q

Norwegian taps GSD&M for media buying, planning

As it prepares for its brand relaunch next year, Norwegian Cruise Line has handed its media buying and planning business to Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, its creative agency of record. The move came without a review. The media account is now at independent JL Media, Union, N.J. To support the brand overhaul, Norwegian will complement its trade and travel-agent marketing approach with a "dramatic increase" in consumer spending, according to Scott Rogers, senior VP-sales and marketing. Last year, Norwegian spent about $21 million on measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence. AdAge.com QwikFIND aar17z

Institute puts up $2M to `transform' papers

Facing a cloudy and tough outlook for print newspapers, the American Press Institute said it will invest $2 million in a project to explore the trends disrupting the industry and, perhaps more importantly, develop practical new business models for newspapers to adopt. Stephen T. Gray, former managing editor, The Christian Science Monitor, and former CEO, The Monroe (Mich.) Evening News, was named managing director of the effort, called "Newspaper Next: The Transformation Project." American Press, an educational center for the news industry, tapped Innosight, a consulting firm, to help. Final recommendations are expected in late 2006.

Interbrand creative director dies at 57

Gary Stilovich, creative director at Interbrand, died Nov. 7 after a battle with cancer. He was 57 years old.

Mr. Stilovich spent 15 years at Interbrand, where he designed and managed corporate and brand identity programs for clients including American Express, Lehman Brothers and Pizza Hut.

"Gary always found the intersection between business strategy and creative expression, making his work highly provocative and highly influential, coveted by his clients and cohorts," said Tom Zara, Interbrand executive director of corporate branding.

Mr. Stilovich lived in New York with his wife, who survives him.

Crain to launch paper for finance executives

Crain Communications, parent company of Advertising Age, announced last week it will launch Financial Week, a newspaper aimed at corporate-finance executives, in 2006.

"We publish newspapers that provide comprehensive coverage of human resources, benefits, finance, retirement investments and business insurance," said Rance Crain, president of Crain Communications. "The addition of FinancialWeek moves us directly into the daily routine of the financial manager."

FinancialWeek will begin with a pilot issue June 5 and will publish every other Monday beginning in September 2006.

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