The World

Canada court throws book at Coffin

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[toronto] Paul Coffin, president of Communication Coffin, has become the first advertising executive involved in Canada's sponsorship scandal to go to jail after a Canadian court reversed an earlier, more lenient verdict. Canada's $290 million sponsorship program was an attempt by the federal government to promote national unity to separatist-minded Quebec. An investigation by the Gomery Commission found that $128 million of the total went mainly to five Quebec ad agencies that billed outrageously, with Mr. Coffin receiving $1.4 million from 373 fraudulent invoices.

Two TV channels covered Mr. Coffin entering Montreal's medium-security Bordeaux Jail last week after being newly sentenced to an 18-month prison term by a Quebec appeals court. He was originally sentenced to two years of community service. However, the Canadian government appealed that verdict, saying it was not enough to deter others from doing the same in the future. The appeals court said the lower-court judge who handed down the initial sentence paid too much attention to Mr. Coffin's personal circumstances- including his repayment of $872,000-and not enough to the crimes. Mr. Coffin still has the right to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. It is unclear whether his lawyers plan to do so.

-gail chiasson

Fort Knox posts guards near its outdoor boards

[sao paulo, brazil] Fort Knox, a leading Brazilian security company, went beyond the typical billboard campaign by posting real security guards next to its signs. In three different executions in Sao Paulo, the men appear to be guarding a safe, an office building and a gated community. The guards, who are genuine Fort Knox employees, will stand guard in three-hour shifts around the clock for two weeks. The billboards, an attention-grabber in a high-crime country where there is a waiting list to get armored cars, were developed by local agency Loducca, Sao Paulo.

-claudia penteado

Bacardi to launch ad-free global music radio station

[london] Bacardi is launching an ad-free all-music global radio station, to be broadcast 24 hours a day via the Internet and cellphones. Bacardi B-Live ( aims to extend the brand's active association with music beyond its regular sponsored events and into multimedia. The radio station launches in the U.K. next month and will roll out internationally throughout the year. Bacardi aims for 300,000 registered listeners within three months. Adam Dewhurst, the project's global talent director, has commissioned exclusive mixes from DJs and producers around the world.

John Burke, Bacardi's global brand director, said, "Thanks to developments in mobile and 3G handset technology it is possible for brands to take their music properties beyond clubs and festival fields. Bacardi B-Live radio is a great platform through which to reach people 24/7."

B-Live will be cross-promoted through Bacardi's existing music events, which will be streamed through the new online radio station. There will also be digital and viral advertising. Bacardi sponsors about 300 branded events around the world. The station will initially broadcast only one version. However, Mr. Dewhurst said, "Further down the line there may be other platforms. U.S. music is more focused on hip-hop and rock-some of this is accommodated within the existing platform, but there may be opportunities to create new platforms further down the line." Video content is also being discussed for the future.
-emma hall

Former StarMedia execs face SEC fraud charges

[new york] The Securities and Exchange Commission filed fraud charges against eight former executives of StarMedia Network, an Internet portal for Latin America and the U.S. Hispanic market that imploded in the dot-com bust. In a 30-page filing, the SEC alleges that in 2000 and the first half of 2001 the defendants, including founder and former CEO Fernando Espuelas, inflated "StarMedia's revenue by over $18 million in order to meet the company's revenue projections and secure additional financing for its operations." In describing how one aspect of the alleged fraud worked, the SEC said that StarMedia gave some advertisers like Danone online ads for free but booked them as paid. Separately, the company restated its financial statements involving two Mexican subsidiaries. StarMedia later filed for bankruptcy. StarMedia's name and some of its assets were sold in 2002 to Eresmas, a Spanish Internet portal now owned by France Telecom's French portal Wanadoo. Mr. Espuelas later started a U.S. Hispanic multimedia company called Voy.

-laurel wentz


vincent bollore's Groupe Bollore last week upped its stake in London-based media-and-research company Aegis Group. On April 11, a unit of Groupe Bollore bought 1.3 million shares, bringing its total holdings to 26.03% of Aegis' outstanding shares.
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