Labatt replaces Pale Ale campaign

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[toronto] Following the recent arrest of the star of its beer commercials on child-pornography charges, Labatt Breweries of Canada is bringing back an earlier campaign, a vintage-style spot set in 1820 when the brand, Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale, was first brewed. The spot, done by Halifax-based agency Colour, was used when Alexander Keith's, previously a local Novia Scotia beer, was launched across Canada in 1997. The spot last aired in 2003 and will be reused with updated packaging shots.

Labatt and its agency, Omnicom Group's Downtown Partners, Toronto, pulled spots starring actor Robert Norman Smith within an hour of learning of the charges against him. Labatt will work with Downtown to create new ads still based on the pride and authenticity of the brand but with a different approach because, said Harvey Carroll, VP-marketing for Labatt, "We don't want a negative halo around the brand."

"That was only one event in the history of an old, authentic brand that's rich in history," Mr. Carroll said. "Consumers today are brand- and media-savvy. I believe that they can differentiate between the actor and the man, and I hope that our customers' loyalties to the brand will continue."

-gail chiasson

'Rolling Stone' launches Chinese-language edition

[hong kong] Rolling Stone, known for its role in defining America's music and pop culture since 1967, is taking on China. One Media Group, a Hong Kong-based lifestyle-magazine group, has launched a local-language version of the title in mainland China in cooperation with Wenner Media.

The monthly, selling for $2.50 on newsstands, will cover music, film, TV and all aspects of entertainment and popular culture in China, said Robby Yung, Hong Kong-based chief strategy officer of One Media Group, which also publishes Chinese-language editions of Popular Science, Digital Camera and Top Gear.

Half the content will come from U.S. and international editions, but the cover story of the debut March issue features Cui Jian, 44, widely regarded as the father of China's rock scene. The nationwide magazine has 120 pages and an unaudited circulation of 125,000. Advertisers in the initial issues include Montblanc, Franck Muller and Nokia. A full-page color ad costs $9,950.

"Our target demographic is an affluent, informed early adopter who's most likely to live in a major urban area, so this is precisely the type of consumer that we think our advertisers are seeking. Historically, [package-goods] companies have been much more focused on television and outdoor advertising in China, and we hope to attract them more and more into print through titles like Rolling Stone," said Mr. Yung.

-normandy madden

Bollore plans rollout of free evening paper

[paris] French financier Vincent Bollore is exploring plans to roll out a free evening newspaper this fall, according to his spokesman. Mr. Bollore, who heads the conglomerate Bollore Group and is also chairman of French advertising company Havas, intends to produce the paper in conjunction with his year-old TV channel, Direct 8. "The TV station already has a team of reporters," said his spokesman. "We can use them as well as other journalists." The paper would launch in Paris, but other cities may be added. While there are several free morning newspapers in Europe, including a title by Metro International, the world's largest publisher of free daily newspapers, an evening version would be a first, according to the spokesman. The current working title: "Direct Soir." In addition to its stake of just over 20% in Havas, the Bollore Group's other French media and advertising holdings include a 30% stake in a production company and 75% of streaming video company Streampower.

-lisa sanders

Lenovo launches its first branded PCs outside China

[new york] China's computer giant Lenovo began introducing itself to the rest of the world last week with the launch of the first Lenovo-branded personal computers to be sold outside China. Until now, Lenovo's international sales were limited to rebranded IBM computers such as ThinkPad and ThinkCenter, picked up through its acquisition of IBM's PC division last year. In China, Lenovo is well known but the challenge is to change Lenovo's image in China from that of a local company to an international brand, said Mark McNeilly, head of brand strategy for Lenovo's worldwide marketing division. In the U.S., the company is introducing the Lenovo 3000 products for the small-business market, with ads from Lenovo's global agency, Ogilvy & Mather. Lenovo controls almost 8% of the global PC market, behind Dell's 17% share and Hewlett-Packard with 16%, according to International Data Corp.

-beth snyder bulik

FYI...

omnicom group's OMD has won Johnson & Johnson's estimated $15 million media business in China, following a pitch against WPP Group's MindShare and the incumbent, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Universal McCann.
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