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Arctic attractions warm up in Asia

[tokyo] Ice bars are getting hot in Asia. Last month Absolut, Sweden's Icehotel and Carrozzeria Japan opened the first Absolut Icebar outside Europe in Japan. Located in Tokyo's trendy Nishi-Azabu shopping and entertainment district, the Arctic attraction, made completely of ice, can hold up to 50 guests who are given coats and gloves to stay warm in the 23 degree environment. For about $30, patrons can enjoy the Icebar for 45 minutes.

Absolut has opened one Icebar a year, starting with Stockholm in 2003, Milan in 2004 and London last year, but has planned a Tokyo bar, with ice imported from northern Sweden, from the beginning. "We know, from our experiences at Icehotel in Jukkasj„rvi, that our concept of working with ice environments are very much appreciated by our Japanese guests," said Agnetha Lund, Absolut Icebar's international director.

"Unlike the one in Stockholm, where the snow melts away in the spring, Tokyo's Icebar will be open all year round, making it a safe bet that it will be a true hot spot until the end of the hot summer," said Dave McCaughan, senior VP and director of strategic planning, McCann Erickson Worldwide, Tokyo. Other Asian cities, meanwhile, are setting up unbranded versions of an ice bar to capitalize on the trend. Balalaika, a Russian restaurant in Hong Kong's hip Lan Kwai Fong bar district, has a glassed ice room serving vodka drinks to customers who can don fur coats to keep warm. Last year, Eski Bar opened in Singapore, helping residents escape the city's year-round tropical heat.

Normandy Madden

AOL shuttered in Brazil as part of reorganization

[sao paulo, brazil] AOL closed in Brazil this month, as part of the reorganization of America Online Latin America (AOLA), a joint venture between Time Warner and Venezuela's Cisneros Group, after AOLA filed bankruptcy proceedings late last year. AOL Brasil is shutting down as an Internet service provider, removing content from its Brazilian portal, and closing its local Brazilian e-mail accounts. Under a marketing agreement with Terra, AOL's Brazilian customers are being encouraged to switch their accounts to that Internet portal. Depending on how many subscribers move to Terra, the company will pay AOL between $760,000 and $1.9 million, according to an SEC filing by AOLA.

claudia penteado

Red Brick Road puts focus on media planning

[london] Red Brick Road, the London agency started by Frank Lowe in December 2005 and named after the path that Dorothy didn't take in The Wizard of Oz, is putting media planning at the heart of its business. As the agency concentrates on producing work for its first and only client-the $80 million Tesco account which it poached from Lowe London-Tony Regan has been brought in as communications planning director. Mr. Regan, 43, is a former managing director of PHD in London and a founder of media planning pioneers Michaelides & Bednash. Most recently he helped start Nylon, a joint planning venture between WPP Group's Young & Rubicam Brands and Mediaedge:cia.

Red Brick Road opened for business March 6, but is still waiting for two of its partners. Paul Weinberger, former chairman of Lowe London, and David Hackworthy, executive planning director of DDB London, are expected to join Paul Hammersley, former chief executive of DDB London, in a couple weeks. Mr. Lowe, the other partner, has been on a two-week holiday. The agency is still talking to potential creative chiefs after failing to hire Lowe's Executive Creative Director Ed Morris. All but one of Lowe London's 30-person Tesco team of planners, account handlers, creatives and even finance staff moved with the account this month to Red Brick Road and are producing work for the retailer, although no new campaign is planned.

"It shows that there is nothing to stop clients leaving big agencies," Mr. Hammersley said. "Once upon a time it would have been too difficult to manage, but now with technology the transfer happened so smoothly-there hasn't been a blip."

Red Brick Road, he said, has a "couple of new business conversations running" but its focus is on keeping Tesco happy. "One of the benefits of having a big founding client is that we can be steady in our growth. We need to win business and provide opportunities for our staff but we want to do it steadily-I'd hope to win two or three pieces of business by the end of the year. "

emma hall

FYI...

four japanese ad agencies and five Japanese TV networks are starting a joint venture called Presentcast to distribute video content and Internet commercials through broadband connections in Japan. The company will start by developing a search portal site. Japan's largest agency Dentsu is the biggest shareholder, with an 18.75% stake in Presentcast, followed by the five TV networks with 12.5% each. The other three ad agencies have smaller stakes.
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