[new york] Playboy Enterprises is close to naming industry veteran Marianne Howatson president of its publishing group, which includes flagship Playboy. The high-level post has been vacant since the May 1994 departure of Michael S. Perlis, now president of TVSM. Ms. Howatson is currently with Cardinal Business Media, Norwalk, Conn.
[orlando, fla.] Darden Restaurants' Red Lobster chain today breaks an $80 million campaign with a new tagline: "Prepared so fresh you can taste it." Grey Advertising, New York, handles.
[new york] ABC Television Network has narrowed the contenders in its $35 million review to incumbent Grey Entertainment (pitching with Grey Advertising), Merkley Newman Harty, TBWA Chiat/Day and Fallon McElligott Berlin, all New York; and the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va. A decision is expected this week.
[paris]Lagardere Group, a diversified technology, defense and media group, plans to merge with Filipacchi Medias in a stock swap that gives Lagardere 66% of Hachette, publisher of Elle, Car & Driver and Premiere. Lagardere said the new company, to be known as Hachette Filipacchi Medias, will have $1.96 billion in annual revenues, making it the world's largest magazine publisher.
[new york] Walt Disney Co. is expected to announce this week the launch of ESPN Magazine, an every-other-weekly competitor to Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated. The magazine, in development for months, is slated for a March 1998 launch. Gary Hoenig, formerly editor of the now-defunct ESPN Total Sports, a joint venture with Hearst Magazines, is editor.
[san francisco] Kendall-Jackson Vineyards & Winery will appeal a U.S. District Court jury verdict Friday vindicating the E&J Gallo Winery on allegations Gallo's Turning Leaf brand wines copied Kendall's Vintners Reserve trade dress.
[san francisco] Levi Strauss & Co. is expected to award its estimated $15 million direct marketing business to Miller Kadanoff, also San Francisco. Foote, Cone& Belding is the apparel company's agency of record and continues to represent Levi's traditional advertising.
[austin, texas] Dell Computer Corp. expanded its test of direct-response newspaper advertising to include 76 papers in 10 markets, with tests running through April in a buy coordinated by Newspaper National Network.
[seattle] Rich LeFurgy, VP-marketing and advertising at Starwave Corp., will move to New York in a new post overseeing ad sales and marketing for Web sites ESPNET SportsZone and ABCNews.com. The move is part of a reorganization after Walt Disney Co. acquired a one-third stake in the company last week. In a related move at the company, Tom Phillips, formerly senior VP-products and services at Starwave, was named president of the ABC News/Starwave venture (see earlier item on Page 40).
[new york] Howard Stringer resigned last Friday as chairman of Tele-TV amid rumors that he is negotiating a top strategic post at Sony Corp. of America. In a separate development, Tele-TV engaged in another round of non-contract layoffs, leaving its employee count hovering at only slightly more than 100.
[new york] MacManus Group has rebranded the international media operations of D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles as MediaVest, as expected. Mike Moore, DMB&B's worldwide media director, has been named president-CEO of MediaVest; Kevin Malloy becomes global media director, from media director-multinational clients for DMB&B. TeleVest, MacManus' separate U.S. media buying operation, is unaffected by the move. Separately, last week TeleVest won the $125 million TV buying account of J.C. Penney Co.
Casio has initiated a review for its $10 million account, currently at Merkley Newman Harty, New York. Merkley will not participate in the review. . . . Knight-Ridder is buying the Kansas City Star and Fort Worth Star-Telgram and Arlington [Texas] Star-Telgram along with two other newspapers from Walt Disney Co. for $1.65 billion. . . . Rick Colby to executive creative director and chief operating officer, Rogge Effler & Partners, Santa Monica, Calif., from creative director, Lois/USA, Los Angeles. Separately, Senior VP-Creative Director Pam Cunningham is leaving Rogge Effler. . . . Sara Lee Corp. tapped Streams Online Media Development, Chicago, to create a Web site. . . . Joe Rodriguez resigned last week as director of worldwide advertising at Novell, San Jose, Calif. . . . Schering-Plough, Liberty Corner, N.J., is said to be moving the healthcare accounts that remain at Warwick Baker & O'Neill, New York, to Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG. Executives at Warwick, Messner and