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[new york] Pfizer is putting the $80 million advertising assignment for anti-arthritis drug Celebrex into review, said executives close to the situation. The incumbent, WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, is expected to defend. Two other significant Pfizer drugs, Zyrtec and Zoloft, are already in review.

Kia opens $40 mil push for its Sedona minivan

[irvine, calif.] Kia Motors America breaks an estimated $40 million push for its Sedona minivan March 10 on national broadcast and cable TV. Independent David and Goliath, Los Angeles, handles. Three TV :30s show humorous "moments of jeopardy" for kids. The theme: "Protect them while you can."

America Online assigns broadband task to BBDO

[dulles, va.] AOL Time Warner's America Online assigned advertising for its AOL Broadband service to Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York. BBDO pitched with @tmosphere, its interactive division, and partnered with sibling Arnell Group, New York, to develop a guerilla marketing plan. Spending for AOL Broadband is expected to be one-third to one-half of America Online's estimated $150 million budget. BBDO's broadband work will make its debut on the March 23 Academy Awards telecast. America Online will next choose between BBDO and independent Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., for a separate corporate branding assignment, expected to account for most of the rest of America Online's budget. See QwikFIND aao50a

Home Depot places PR at Omnicom, Publicis

[atlanta] Home Depot cut its public relations agency roster to Omnicom's Ketchum Public Relations, for marketing communications, and Publicis Groupe's Manning, Selvage & Lee, for corporate communications, from a previous list of more than 20 PR shops nationwide.

Budget Rent A Car hands task to Avis shop McCann

[parsippany, n.j.] Cendant Corp.'s Budget Rent A Car unit assigned advertising to a Cendant roster shop, Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York. Spending was not disclosed. Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York, was the incumbent. McCann handles Cendant's Avis Rent A Car brand and plans a separate team for Budget.

New Sears ads break; bear new CMO's mark

[hoffman estates, ill.] Sears, Roebuck & Co. in national prime-time TV March 9 broke its first TV ads bearing the mark of new Exec VP-Chief Customer and Marketing Officer Janine Bousquette. The spring fashion ad campaign focuses on private label clothing brands Covington, Apostrophe and Canyon River Blues. Creative drops the year-old "Sears: Where Else?" tag, an executive familiar with the situation said. WPP's Y&R Advertising, Chicago, handles. Spending was not disclosed.

WPP may face debt downgrade: Moody's

[london] Moody's Investors Service placed credit ratings for about $2.4 billion in WPP Group long-term debt under review for possible downgrade, citing "deteriorating operating results and an increase in debt levels over recent years." The move could take unsecured debt down one notch to Baa2, two steps above junk status. WPP declined to comment.

Montreal Catholic church takes ads to oppose war

[montreal] The Roman Catholic Church here is asking its faithful to pray for peace in an anti-war newspaper and poster ad campaign, in French and English, depicting a gun with its trigger blocked from firing by a cross. Headline: "Peace is in your hands." BOS, Montreal, handled.

Conn. enacts ad tax; 3% levy as of April 1

[hartford, conn.] A 3% Connecticut tax on advertising, public relations and direct mail creative and production work will take effect April 1, part of a tax-increase package to address the state government's budget crisis. Media buys were exempted.

FYI . . .

Publicis' D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Troy, Mich., named Joe Garcia global business director on General Motors Corp., a new post. The agency March 11 will unveil a new name as part of a repositioning that will make it a global dedicated shop for GM. Mr. Garcia was exec VP-group account director at D'Arcy on GM's Cadillac account. ... Nestle USA halted the launch of "tween"-targeted Juicy Juice J-Max in markets west of the Mississippi due to manufacturing issues, said executives close to Nestle. What was expected to be a $10 million national ad effort for the launch had been set for May. A Nestle spokeswoman said the delay is part of a two-phase launch. Publicis' Publicis in Mid America, Dallas, handles. ... Target Corp.'s California-based Mervyn's department stores is launching an estimated $15 million brand campaign this month. Rival Kohl's last week opened 28 stores in southern California. Independent Venables, Bell & Partners, San Francisco, handles. ... Pearson's Financial Times is reviewing agencies for a new U.S. campaign to promote the newspaper and its Web site. M&C Saatchi, New York, and DiMassimo Brand Advertising, New York, have been tapped to present. Spending was not disclosed ... Conde Nast Publications is set to announce a 2004 launch for a men's version of Lucky as early as today, said an executive. ... Darden Restaurants is searching for a new top marketer at Red Lobster to succeed Exec VP-Marketing Mark McCallum. Since Mr. McCallum left, Jane Melvin, senior VP-strategic innovations at Darden's Olive Garden, has acted as interim marketing leader at Red Lobster.

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