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[washington] In a move with potential advertising consequences, the Treasury Department last week proposed some new definitions for malt beverages that could force all but a handful of "malt-alternative" brands to reformulate or be reclassified as a "distilled spirit." Broadcast TV networks and many TV stations do not accept ads for distilled spirits. Placement on supermarket store shelves could also be affected. About $70 million a year in all media is spent on ads for malt alternatives, a category that includes such brands as Smirnoff Ice and Mike's Hard Lemonade. See QwikFIND aao53t

Excedrin shifted from Lowe to small independent

[new york] Excedrin, a Bristol Myers Squibb pain-reliever brand previously at Interpublic's Bozell, New York (now part of Interpublic's Lowe, New York) was assigned to Under the Radar, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and Westport, Conn., after a review. Lowe did not defend. New TV spots are being created for Excedrin's Tension Headache, set to launch at the end of spring. Bristol-Myers Squibb spent $35 million in measured media on 10 Excedrin brands in 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

Closed to media shops, Brazil targeted by Carat

[sao paulo] Aegis Group's Carat later this year plans to be the first media specialist to open in Brazil-despite fierce resistance to media specialists by the Brazilian industry. No specialist now operates in Brazil due to rules policed by local industry group CENP that restrict payment of media commissions to full-service agencies. Carat's Brazil operation will be run by Otavio Martins and Antonio Murena Jr. of Aegis-owned Copernicus, a strategy and positioning consultancy with offices in the U.S. and Brazil. "We can't really operate because of CENP, but we are studying a way to do it without harming CENP and its rules," Mr. Martins said. A Carat executive in New York said, "We understand the restrictions and are in the early stages of evaluating our options."

Prestone extends name to car-care products

[danbury, conn.] Honeywell International's Prestone Products launches its first line of car-care products March 24 on select national cable TV networks. Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Troy, Mich., handles. Ads introduce a Prestone car wax and tire shiner. "Protection inside and out" is the new tag. Prestone spending in 2003 was estimated at $8 million.

New Mitsubishi TV ads feature European band

[cypress, calif.] Mitsubishi Motors North America set March 24 for the launch of an estimated $60 million campaign, its biggest ever, for the all-new Endeavor SUV (AA, March 10). TV ads, featuring the U.S. premier of the Scandinavian band Overseer, performing its song "Horn Dog," are slated for national broadcast and cable TV networks. Newspaper and magazine ads support. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles, handles. The theme is "Remember when driving an SUV actually made you look different."

New AOL ads promise `Worldwide Wow'

[dulles, va.] AOL Time Warner's America Online was to break two TV spots on ABC's March 23 Academy Awards broadcast promoting its revamped high-speed AOL Broadband service, to be formally relaunched March 31. Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles. One of the spots, "Six Million Dollar Man," is a send-up of the 1970s TV series and shows scientists overhauling the AOL running man icon. Voice-over: "Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. ... We can make him better, stronger, faster." Closing line: "The New AOL for Broadband. Welcome to the Worldwide Wow." See QwikFIND AAo52q

HHCC's Hill may join AOL team at BBDO

[new york] Nancy Hill, exec VP-managing director at Interpublic Group of Cos.' Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, New York, is in negotiations to take a top post on the America Online account at Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, executives familiar with the situation said. Ms. Hill and BBDO declined to comment.

Pontiac's Grand Prix gets NCAA spotlight

[detroit] Pontiac launches its 2004 Grand Prix April 5 on CBS during the NCAA basketball playoffs. Publicis Groupe's Chemistri, Troy, Mich., created four slice-of-life spots to show the car's performance.

FYI . . .

An Illinois circuit court judge on March 21 ordered Philip Morris USA to pay $10.1 billion in damages in a class action case that charged "light" cigarettes were marketed as less harmful than regular cigarettes. ... Fitch Ratings downgraded Omnicom's senior unsecured debt and short-term debt rating to A- from A and F2 from F1, respectively. However, it upgraded Omnicom's credit outlook to "stable" from "negative." ... Nike gave an estimated $10 million interactive advertising assignment, for six nations in the Asia Pacific region, to AKQA, San Francisco. AKQA handles Nike work out of its London office. ... American Legacy Foundation named finalists for its $65 million anti-tobacco ad account: Interpublic's Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich.; Omnicom's GSD&M, Austin, Texas; independent Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.; and two incumbents: Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston, and Maxxcom's Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Miami. Separately, Lorillard Tobacco Co. refused to make a final $28.4 million payment due to the foundation and said it will put the funds in escrow pending the outcome of litigation. ... J.C. Penny Corp. named VP-Director of Marketing Planning and Promotions Mike Boylson 48, to be exec VP-chief marketing officer, succeeding John Budd, who will retire.

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