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Benz holds review for C-Class launch

[stuttgart, germany] DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz division confirmed the car marketer is holding a global review to choose one agency to introduce the 2007 model of the C-Class, Mercedes' biggest selling line by volume. The company has invited agencies with Mercedes experience, most of them part of Omnicom Group or Interpublic Group of Cos., to pitch. The pitch is believed to have been initiated by Mercedes-Benz's new marketing director, Olaf Goettgens, a former executive at BBDO Germany, Duesseldorf, who joined Mercedes last year. The agencies pitching include three shops in Germany: Interpublic's Springer & Jacoby, Hamburg, the agency that has handled the car maker's account for over a decade; Hamburg-based KNSK, which is minority-owned by BBDO and works for Chrysler in Germany; and Scholz & Friends, Berlin, the agency for Mercedes-Benz trucks. Also pitching are Mercedes' U.S. agency, Merkley & Partners, and the company's French agency, BBDO, Paris, and London shop CDD. Mercedes spends about $33 million on the C-Class in the U.S. and $18 million in Germany, and sold 290,000 C-Class vehicles in 2005. -dagmar mussey

Nestle tailors KitKat spots to TV programs

[toronto] Nestle Canada and Zenith Optimedia are working together on an unusual way to encourage Canadian TV viewers to try a KitKat by creating commercials that relate to the specific program during which they run on the CanWest Global TV network. The companies are developing a series of 15-second ads with a clock on which a chocolate KitKat finger slowly rotates. Each ad is customized to fit a specific program, including "Survivor," "The Apprentice," "The Simpsons" and "Saturday Night Live." During "Survivor" ad breaks, for instance, the clock is set into a torch similar to the ones used in the show. The idea started during Super Bowl coverage, with the chocolate-bar hand rotating on a clock set into a football helmet and the longtime KitKat slogan "Have a break, have a KitKat." The national campaign will run until at least the end of April. -gail chiasson

U.K. seeks to ban use of celebs in 'junk food' ads

[london] The U.K. will ban the use of celebrities in "junk-food" commercials aimed at children under the age of 10 starting this fall. The ban will affect a number of high-profile TV campaigns, including Pepsi-Cola, known for spots featuring stars like Britney Spears and Beyonce Knowles. Film tie-ins will also be banned.

On top of the sanction on celebrities, Ofcom-the U.K. media industry's regulator-is also looking at an outright ban on all TV food and drink advertising that targets kids under 10. Such a ban is the most extreme of four possible alternatives for restricting TV advertising of food and drinks to children announced by Ofcom on March 28. The four options are open for discussion until June 6, and the favored proposal will go into effect in January 2007.

A second alternative suggests restrictions on advertising for products that are high in fat, salt and sugar. The third proposal is to limit the total number of minutes of food and drink commercials seen by kids under 10, combined with a ban on all such advertising to preschool children. Ofcom has also left open a fourth option, which it calls "an invitation to propose a workable and effective option which commands industry support."

"We accept that food and drink advertising has a modest direct effect on children's eating habits and we are looking for the most appropriate course of action," said an Ofcom spokesman. "We need new rules to strengthen responsible advertising of food and drink to children."

The National Consumer Council is not satisfied with Ofcom's proposals and insisted that Ofcom needs to be tougher on junk-food advertising to children on TV. The group's chief executive, Ed Mayo, said, "Ofcom should have been bolder. The U.K.'s obesity problem demands tough controls targeted at unhealthy foods high in fat, sugar and salt." The National Consumer Council favors a ban on junk-food ads during all TV programs that are popular with young people under 16 and air before 9 p.m. - Emma Hall


time warner's Sports Illustrated will start a Chinese-language edition this fall for China. Published every two weeks, the magazine will cover basketball, soccer and other sports that will be major events in the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in Beijing. ... Publicis Groupe is buying 80% of Betterway Marketing Solutions, a leading Chinese marketing-services agency. The agency will be aligned with the Publicis Worldwide network and Publicis Dialog marketing services division. Betterway's co-CEOs, Jenny Zhang and York Huang, will remain minority partners. ... American Express Publishing Corp. is planning to add an Indian edition called Travel & Leisure South Asia in August. The Indian title, published by Media Transasia, will be the magazine's sixth international edition.
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