Kraft consolidates media with Aegis

And other news in Greater China

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SHANGHAI--Kraft Foods has consolidated its media planning and buying business in China with Aegis Media following a two-way pitch against MindShare. Billings were not disclosed but last year, monitored media spending for the total business reached $110 million, according to CTR Market Research.

Aegis Media's Carat division already worked on brands that Kraft acquired last year when it bought Danone’s cookie unit, such as Prince, Tuc, and Shark. Now, it also handles media for Oreo, Tang, and Maxwell House, which previously were handled by MindShare. Kraft has not made any changes to its creative business, the accounts remain split between Ogilvy & Mather, Draft/FCB and Saatchi & Saatchi.

Hershey appoints Euro RSCG Shanghai for regional creative
SHANGHAI--Hershey Co. has moved the regional creative business for its Hershey’s Kisses brand to Euro RSCG. The American confectionery company held a credentials pitch among several unnamed agencies but in the end, Euro RSCG was appointed on the basis of its relationship with Hershey’s agency Arnold Worldwide. Both are owned by Havas Groupe, but Arnold’s presence outside the U.S. is small.

The regional business will be coordinated by Euro’s office in Shanghai, where Kevin Ma, Hershey’s regional marketing director for Asia and the Middle East, is based. China is Hershey’s biggest market in Asia, and Hershey's is one of the top chocolate brands in the mainland after Dove and Cadbury.

A new campaign for Hershey's Kisses is expected at the end of this year, the peak time for chocolate marketing in China because of Chinese New Year and western holidays like Christmas that are becoming popular in the mainland.

Tech advances fuel debate over domains of Olympic marketing partners
CHICAGO--Samsung paid dearly to become the official wireless sponsor of the Olympic Games. Now it just has to figure out if the standard bells and whistles on many of its phones intrude on other major sponsors' exclusive turf.

Samsung, Panasonic and Kodak each shelled out more than $1 million to become one of the games' dozen "Top Programme" sponsors, which gives them exclusive rights to hawk wireless, audio/video and imaging devices, respectively, through the Olympic platform.

When those deals were signed during the 1980s and 1990s, those categories were entirely distinct. Not anymore: Advances in technology have blurred the lines between cellphones and TV sets and stereo systems. In today's world, phones play videos and music files and take pictures -- so can Samsung market multimedia phones as the Olympics' wireless-marketing partner or is that massive piece of its new-product portfolio off limits?

"Ten years ago, it was clear cut," said Gyehyun Kwon, Samsung's head of worldwide sports marketing. "Now, what is wireless equipment? What is video? Now it's an argument."

While discussions concerning the "argument" continue, Samsung is attempting to soft-pedal the issue by emphasizing the wireless-communications aspect of its phones -- not their audio, video and photo capabilities--through the Olympics, a step that could hinder sales efforts in a category dominated by ain't-it-cool appeals.

Until now, the sponsorships have been well worth the trouble, particularly in the markets where the games are held. Mr. Kwon said Samsung's Italian phone sales rose 80% after its role in the 2006 Turin Winter Games. Obviously a similar boost in China -- even if it's just in the northeastern section of the country, around Beijing--would be hugely lucrative.

Those stakes may explain some of the apparent pettiness from sponsors trying to protect their exclusive rights. Mr. Kwon said Panasonic executives complained to him when a piece of tape concealing the Samsung brand name on a TV monitor at its Olympic Village installation disappeared. "This is the reality we're facing," he said.

An International Olympic Committee spokeswoman wouldn't address the discussions, and Panasonic did not respond to repeated inquiries.

But sports-marketing experts said conflicts over exclusivity have become increasingly common due to technological advances, consolidation and expanded services from marketers that soften the once-bold lines between categories -- something marketers have become less tolerant of as the cost of major deals has risen.

"You didn't used to have so much crossover," said Mark Lev, exec VP of Fenway Sports Group, a Boston-based consultancy that sells sponsorships for teams such as the Boston Red Sox and buys them for clients such as Dunkin' Donuts. "We run into this a lot more, and the discussion is much more intense."
--by Ad Age reporter Jeremy Mullman
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