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Havas gets its hands on WPP's Leg

[london] Days before a Nov. 25 deadline when WPP Group and deal-partner Hellman & Friedman must reveal whether they'll bid to buy Aegis Group, of which Havas Chairman Vincent Bollore owns 24.99%, two erstwhile competitors collaborated in a deal. Havas, in a bid to add creative strength to Citroen, a major client of its global network Euro RSCG Worldwide, last week bought Paris-based Leg from WPP for an undisclosed sum, the agencies said. Leg will merge with Euro RSCG 27, a unit within Euro's Paris office established in 2002 to handle Citroen's creative account. Several months ago, Euro sibling media agency MPG lost PSA Peugeot-Citroen's media-buying account in France after a pan-European review. While MPG picked up duties in Germany, the loss in the car maker's homeland was a blow to the client-agency relationship. The new agency will be called Leg, according to Gabriel Gaultier, its chief executive, who will remain in that role. Mr. Gaultier worked on PSA in 1983 and 1995 in Havas agencies, and on Volkswagen and Audi at DDB Paris from 1988 to 1994. The merged agency will have a staff of around 50-roughly 16 from Leg and 34 from Euro RSCG 27. As well as the Citroen brand, Leg will continue to handle clients including Eurostar, Ben & Jerry's and the Pompidou Centre.

P&G uses ambient media to tout its conditioners

[bangkok, thailand] Leo Burnett Worldwide developed an ambient media execution in Bangkok to reinforce the message that Procter & Gamble's Rejoice conditioners leave hair free of tangles. The Publicis Groupe agency installed a large green comb near the top of a 13-foot high utility pole on Wireless Road in the Thai capital's central business district that looks like it is combing through tangled wires. The comb's tagline says, "Tangles? Switch to Rejoice conditioners." Although the cords inside the comb are not real, their proximity is close enough to real electric and phone cables to fool most passersby.

"When it comes to beauty advertising, it's pretty much parity across the major players, TV and point-of-sale being the main battlefields. This is especially evident when it comes to hair care. P&G has taken a significant step in trying to get a piece of consumers' minds with this latest ambient effort," said Chris Chiu, executive creative director, Leo Burnett, Bangkok.

City officials were not worried about the fake cables lying so near real ones, he said, "But at first, they were afraid the comb would fall down and hurt someone. We managed to convince them it was safe."

-normandy madden

Coke sends texts to car stereos

[buenos aires, argentina] Coca-Cola is transmitting text messages to car stereos in Argentina, an effort to reach consumers in a fresh way via a new, high-tech medium.

The soft-drink marketer is using radio data system (RDS). It allows radio broadcasters to send messages to text-capable displays on car stereos, a growing market. Around 300,000, or 4.6% of the nation's 6.6 million vehicles, are RDS-compatible and most new models are coming with it installed, according to industry data.

Coca-Cola is working with La 100, a Buenos Aires rock station that has been using RDS for messages with names of artists and songs, as well as weather updates. It's the sector's first ads with the technology.

"Drink the good, Coca Cola"-the company's current slogan-is flashed across displays during and between songs, followed by "Turn on the music. La 100."

The medium helps the brand stand out by doing "something different," said Paola Angelo Pape, manager of marketing services at Coca-Cola's Argentina unit. A restriction is that messages mustn't distract drivers' attention from the road, she added.

-charles newbery

Canada launches campaign to encourage tourism

[ottawa] The Canadian Tourism Commission is "branding Canada" with its worldwide advertising strategy and campaign, aimed at increasing tourism revenue from its 11 core markets by $6.2 billion or close to 23% in five years. According to the United Nations, Canada is the No. 2 place to live in the world, but it has dropped from seventh to 12th place as a travel destination.Creative, with tagline "Canada. Keep Exploring," is designed to bridge the gap between consumers' traditional perceptions of Canada as simply a place of beautiful geography and its emerging international reputation as a progressive, welcoming society. Developed by DDB Canada, Toronto, it follows extensive research in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Canada.The first wave of the campaign will launch in the U.K., France and Germany in early 2006, following which evaluation studies will be undertaken. It will include print and radio, as well as creative in the London subway, branded coffee sleeves, branded bags in bakeries, public bus wraps and 3-D posters in high-traffic locations.

-gail chiasson

FYI...

Ziff Davis Media said it has started a Chinese edition of PC Magazine through a joint venture with SEEC Media Group, a Hong Kong media company. The companies hope to extend other Ziff Davis titles into China in the future. ... Dennis Publishing's Maxim is starting an edition for India this month in a licensing agreement with local publisher Media Transasia.

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