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Coalition asks FCC for prime-time rules

[new york] An alliance of entertainment and advertising companies and talent unions, the Coalition for Program Diversity, will ask the Federal Communications Commission to require broadcast TV networks to devote a percentage of prime time to shows produced by independent companies. It intends to file formal comments with the FCC on Dec. 30. The coalition includes Grey Global Group's MediaCom, Sony Pictures Television, Carsey-Werner Productions and others. The coalition believes prime-time programming has become "homogenous and safe" because it is almost completely produced and owned by the networks themselves or in partnership with an exclusive group of producers. The FCC is seeking comments on whether it should relax TV network and station ownership rules. See QwikFIND aao31m

Jordan vs. Jordan in Gatorade spot

[chicago] PepsiCo's Quaker Oats Co. breaks a Gatorade TV spot featuring Michael Jordan on Jan. 1, the first new TV ad in three years by Mr. Jordan for the sports drink. Called "23 vs. 39," the spot pits the soon-to-be-retiring-but-wiser athlete in a pickup game against his younger, top-form self from his peak professional and college days. Created by Omnicom Group's Element 79, Chicago, and directed by Joe Pytka, the 60-second spot uses new digital technology developed by Hollywood director James Cameron to bring the fantasy to life. The ad breaks during the college football Bowl Championship Series telecasts and will make a Jan. 26 Super Bowl appearance with a 30-second version.

Three vie for $100 mil Lantus biz

[new york] Aventis Pharmaceuticals, reviewing shops for its estimated $100 million Lantus diabetes drug ad assignment, said the finalists are Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, Havas' Euro RSCG Worldwide and a group of WPP Group-owned agencies that includes Y&R Advertising, PR agency Burson-Marsteller, media buying firm MediaEdge, Cement Works and direct promotion and relationship-marketing agency RTC, all New York.

McDonald's USA chief supports Dollar Menu

[oakbrook, ill.] McDonald's Corp. plans to "stay the course" on its Dollar Menu as it adds new beef spices and sandwich buns, despite weak sales and eroding operator margins. In a Dec. 22 memo to employees and McDonald's restaurant operators, McDonald's USA President Michael Roberts acknowledged the Dollar Menu was pressuring margins but said it was improving transaction trends, "differentiating us from the competition" and is "not the total value or pricing solution." Mr. Roberts wrote that 20% of 2003's advertising gross rating points would be dedicated to the Dollar Menu with 80% focused on "new food news, [Quarter-Pounders-with-Cheese], Big Macs and brand advertising."

Line extensions set for Spray `n Wash, Lysol

[wayne, n.j.] Reckitt Benckiser is launching new Spray `n Wash laundry additives to be added to wash loads rather than sprayed directly on clothes, and a new line of Lysol Neutralizers designed to extend the brand from sanitizers to air fresheners, said retail executives. The latter move comes as rival S.C. Johnson & Son rolls Glade "air sanitizers" aimed at making the opposite migration from fresheners to sanitizers. Reckitt's products ship in mid-January, to be backed by more than $30 million in combined advertising, most of it behind Lysol, the executives said. WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson Co., New York, handles Lysol, and Havas' Euro RSCG MVBMS & Partners, New York, handles Spray `n Wash.

New Red Lobster ads focus on Hispanics

[orlando] Eager to lure Hispanic consumers, Darden Restaurants' Red Lobster on Jan. 6 will break in 11 U.S. markets a new advertising campaign aimed at Hispanic consumers. The estimated $1 million TV and radio effort produced by Interpublic Group of Cos.' affiliate Siboney USA, New York, will tout the chain's "All you can eat shrimp" promotion through Feb. 9. Creative is centered on a family's perfect day on a sailboat and is set to the popular song "En el mar la vida es mas sabrosa" (In the ocean, life has more flavor).

Ford Division's ads get anniversary logo

[dearborn, mich.] Ads for Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division will add a "The Road is Ours" logo in January in preparation for the marketer's 100th anniversary celebration in June. WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, handles. Ford Division will also advertise its limited-production commemorative versions of the Focus, Taurus, F-Series, Mustang and Explorer in the second quarter.

Spike DDB, Beyonce team up for Pepsi ads

[new york] Omnicom Group's Spike DDB is set to shoot its first campaign for Pepsi-Cola North America, starring new front woman Beyonce Knowles. A Pepsi spokesman suggested the ad featuring Beyonce might run during the Super Bowl next month. Pepsi may also widen Spike DDB's duties to include radio, print and Internet creative. Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, handles general advertising. Dieste Harmel & Partners, Dallas, handles Hispanic for Pepsi.

FYI . . .

For the first time this TV season, Viacom's CBS won the week in the key adults 18-49 ratings that most national advertisers covet. For the week ending Dec. 22, it earned a Nielsen Media Research 4.1 rating /12 share in the demographic thanks to a strong season finale performance from "Survivor: Thailand," a 17% improvement for the network over the same time period last year. General Electric Corp.'s NBC was second (3.4 /10) followed by Walt Disney Co.'s ABC (3.2/9) and News Corp.'s Fox (2.8/8). ... Hilton Hotels Corp.'s Hampton Inn unit awarded creative for its Hampton Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites brands to Interpublic's Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, Chicago. Omnicom's DDB Worldwide, Dallas, the incumbent, and Omnicom sibling Martin-Williams, Minneapolis, also competed for the business. Hampton spent $19.3 million through September of this year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. ... Omnicom said outside board member Peter Foy, a member of its audit committee, resigned because of other commitments. It also announced two appointments of outside directors to its board: Michael Henning, retired deputy chairman of Ernst & Young, and Errol Cook, a former managing director and partner of Warburg Pincus & Co. ... Barbados Tourism Authority's Americas division selected ISM, Boston, to handle its $6 million North American advertising account, following a review. Publicis' soon-to-be-shuttered D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, was the incumbent.

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