Benz review focused on Omnicom shops

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[stuttgart, germany] In a clear preference for Omnicom Group, DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz division has cut its shortlist to three Omnicom-backed agencies and jettisoned all the non-Omnicom shops pitching for the global introduction of the 2007 model of the C-Class, Mercedes' biggest-selling line by volume. A Mercedes-Benz spokeswoman confirmed that the three contenders left are Merkley & Partners, New York; CLM/ BBDO, Paris; and Shop, a 5-year-old London creative shop that changed its name from Campbell Doyle Dye earlier this year. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Springer & Jacoby, whose biggest client is Mercedes, has been dropped from the pitch, along with two other Germany agencies: Scholz & Friends, Hamburg, and Mercedes' agency for trucks, KNSK, Hamburg, which is 40% owned by BBDO. The other two agencies cut from the list are El Laboratorio, Barcelona, and Colnaghi Manciani, Milan. Speculation is that either CLM/BBDO will win, or the account may be split by region, with Merkley handling the U.S. and CLM/BBDO taking Europe, possibly working with Shop. A decision is expected this summer.

-dagmar mussey

Switzerland targets 'World Cup widows'

[zurich, switzerland] The Swiss Tourism Board has identified a temporary tourist market this summer of desperate housewives who are "World Cup widows" due to husbands neglecting them for soccer matches. A seductive male voice-over in a tongue-in-cheek spot by Spillmann/Felser/ Leo Burnett, Zurich, asks, "Dear girls, why not escape this summer's World Cup to a country where men spend less time on football and more time on you?" A series of hunky Swiss men-a farmhand, a lumberjack, a ferryman and a mountain climber-do manly things as they gaze longingly into the camera. The ad ends with Mr. Switzerland 2005, Renzo Blumenthal, milking a cow. This year Germany is hosting the World Cup from June 9 through July 9, so the Swiss Tourist Board is targeting women in Germany and its neighbors France and Italy.

-laurel wentz

Bollore to launch free daily on D-Day anniversary

[paris] A free French daily called Direct Soir, the latest media venture of Vincent Bollore, chairman of advertising group Havas and head of French conglomerate Bollore Group, is set to launch in test June 6, the anniversary of D-Day, when Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy in France, according to knowledgeable executives. Mr. Bollore revealed plans for Direct Soir and commented on his other media interests during Bollore Group's recent annual general meeting.

Direct Soir will be distributed in the afternoon in Paris and as-yet-undetermined areas outside the city. France already has two free papers distributed in the morning, but none as yet later in the day. It will be written and produced in part by staff from Mr. Bollore's existing digital terrestrial TV channel, Direct 8. A full launch is set for September, according to the executives. Details on the paper's editor and publisher are not yet available. D-Day was chosen for the test run, said one executive, because two of the 177 Frenchmen who participated in the D-Day landings were members of Mr. Bollore's family, a source of pride among the Bollore clan.

-lisa sanders

Adidas names Becker to oversee Reebok

[canton, mass.] Adidas has tightened control over recently acquired Reebok by naming Uli Becker as head of global marketing for the Reebok brand. Mr. Becker held the same position at Adidas, and replaces his Reebok counterpart, Dennis Baldwin, who is leaving the company. Mr. Becker, who will relocate to Cantonto begin his new role on July 17, will oversee global product, sports marketing, global brand marketing and global PR. Back at Adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Mr. Becker will be succeeded as head of global brand marketing by Eric Liedtke, who heads up brand marketing at Adidas America in Portland, Ore.

-laurel wentz


the consumer research and consulting firm Online Testing eXchange has formed a partnership with Market China that will enable global and local Chinese brands to conduct online market research in more than 120,000 Internet cafes around China that attract an estimated 50 million users per month. ... Aegis Group will acquire a 70% stake in New Voice, a PR, branding, marketing and event-planning-services company in China, in a deal worth up to $16 million through 2012. "The marketing and communications sector in China is growing at over 20% a year," said Aegis CEO Robert Lerwill. "This transaction is consistent with our strategy of growing our networks in the region through partnerships, acquisitions and market-share gains."
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