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[new york] AOL Time Warner said as much as $400 million booked as advertising revenue in transactions with Bertelsmann AG has been challenged by the Securities and Exchange Commission and may have to be restated. The new accounting issue was disclosed in AOL Time Warner's 10K annual report filed March 28. The SEC believes at least some of the $400 million should have been treated as a reduction in the price AOL paid for Bertelsmann's 50% stake in AOL Europe; at the same time AOL Time Warner was negotiating a buyback of that stake in 2001, Bertelsmann agreed to run $400 million in ads on AOL. AOL recorded that as ad revenue over three years. An AOL spokeswoman refused to comment, saying the company continues to cooperate with the SEC.

Amex breaks ads tied to NBA/WNBA

[new york] Pro basketball players and coaches appear for American Express Co. in a humorous campaign breaking March 31 promoting the American Express card as the "official card" of the NBA and WNBA. WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, handles. Spending was not disclosed. An ad featuring Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson touts American Express as the "official card of good karma"; in another, the Dallas Mavericks' coach learns several foreign languages to communicate with his players.

Atkinson out at `WSJ'; Schulman new ad chief

[new york] Wall Street Journal Senior VP-Advertising Paul C. Atkinson is leaving the Dow Jones & Co. publication "to pursue other interests," the company said March 28. Scott Schulman, president of Dow Jones' consumer electronic publishing division, will assume Mr. Atkinson's duties as senior VP-sales and marketing for the Journal.

Prison sentence, fine for Color Wheel ex-chief

[new york] Haluk Ergulec, founder and former head of graphics services firm Color Wheel, was sentenced to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $1.5 million in restitution, the Justice Department said. Mr. Ergulec in November pleaded guilty to several charges of antitrust, tax and fraud violations as part of an ongoing probe into bid-rigging, bribery, fraud and tax-related activities in the advertising and marketing communications industry. See QwikFIND aao54u

Ford opens ad drive for sporty Lincoln LS

[Irvine, Calif.] Ford Motor Co. broke an estimated $30 million campaign March 28 for its peppier Lincoln LS sports sedan with ads touting the LS as "the driver's luxury car." WPP Group's Y&R Cos., Irvine, Calif., handles. Two new 30-second spots, unveiled on ESPN March 28, were to break in prime time March 31 on Fox's "Boston Public." The campaign spotlights the upgraded 2003 model's 280-horsepower V-8 engine. Print ads are slated for a variety of titles, including Details, Esquire, Fast Company, Golf Digest and Fortune.

Curley exits `USA Today'; takes CEO post at AP

[mclean, va.] USA Today President-Publisher Tom Curley, 54, resigned to join Associated Press as president-CEO, effective June 1, succeeding Louis D. Boccardi, 65, who is retiring. Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today, said a successor to Mr. Curley would be named shortly. Mr. Curley, one of the founders of USA Today, was named its president in 1986 and added the publisher title in 1991.

Aguilera sings for NBA in playoff promo spot

[new york] Grammy Award-winner Christina Aguilera appears for the National Basketball Association in a new 90-second TV spot, promoting the upcoming NBA playoffs, that breaks April 6 on ABC as part of the NBA's "Love it Live" campaign. Thirty- and 60-second versions of the ad will later appear in NBA telecasts and non-NBA telecasts on other networks. NBA Entertainment, Secaucus, N.J., handles.

Time Inc. limits access to its mag Web sites

[new york] Time Inc. on March 30 began restricting access to its magazine Web sites to the magazines' subscribers and to subscribers of AOL Time Warner sibling America Online. Entertainment Weekly and People sites were the first to be affected and will be followed by: Teen People (April 7), Sports Illustrated for Kids, Real Simple and InStyle (April 21), Sunset (April 22), Time for Kids, Coastal Living, Cooking Light and Southern Accents (April 29), Southern Living (May 7) and Parenting (May 20).

Major layoff at `Worth'; '03 frequency is cut

[new york] Worth Magazine will slash frequency to eight issues from 10 this year and operate with a sharply reduced staff. The entire staff of around 40, including Founder-Editor in Chief W. Randall Jones, was laid off March 27. Mr. Jones and Publisher Mahesh Krishnamurti were meeting through the weekend and beginning April 1 were expected to start rehiring for a smaller work force. Mr. Krishnamurti said "more than half" of the former staff would likely be rehired. See QwikFIND aao55r

FYI . . .

Sally Hogshead, a founder and creative director of the Los Angeles office of Miami-based Crispin Porter & Bogusky, left the agency. Ms. Hogshead said she is expecting the birth of twins and needed to cut back her work commitments.Tim Roper rejoins Crispin as creative director from Interpublic's Mullen, Boston, where he was senior VP-group creative director. ...In a repeat performance, Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Worldwide topped the 2003 Effie awards competition with nine Effies, followed by Omnicom's TBWA/Chiat/Day with eight, and Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide with seven, the New York American Marketing Association, sponsor of the awards, said. ... Coca-Cola Co. tapped Interpublic's FCB, Chicago, to handle Dannon bottled water after a review involving independent Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., said executives close to the situation. Moss/Dragoti, New York, an independent, was the incumbent. ... Syndicated Network Television Association President Gene DeWitt appears to be leaving the organization, reports TelevisionWeek. Though an SNTA official told TelevisionWeek no changes were planned, Mr. DeWitt told the publication he expected a buy-out offer.

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