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Microsoft opens $400 mil global brand campaign

[redmond, wash.] Microsoft Corp. today kicks off a corporate brand campaign to convey its role in empowering people through technology to realize their potential. The print and TV effort, from Interpublic Group of Cos' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, San Francisco, uses the copy line "Your Potential, Our Passion" to articulate the Microsoft proposition, which extends both to businesses and individuals. Microsoft said it will spend $400 million globally on the push through next June, with about $150 million of it to be spent in the U.S. Five TV spots will run on network and cable TV, including Fox News, CNBC and CBS's "60 Minutes." Spread ads will appear in Dow Jones & Co.'s The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post Co.'s Washington Post and major business publications.

Riney's top HP exec leaps to McCann/SF

[san francisco] Harry Corsham, worldwide account director on Hewlett-Packard Co. at Publicis Groupe's Publicis & Hal Riney, has taken a post heading up the Microsoft Corp. account at Interpublic's McCann-Erickson, San Francisco. Succeeding Mr. Corsham at Riney is Frank Schumacher, former VP- group account director on the HP global business, who now is senior VP-worldwide group account director at Riney.

Next `Idol' sponsor? AT&T, say media execs

[new york] Media executives report AT&T Corp. will be a major sponsor of the next edition of "American Idol," the hit show on News Corp.'s Fox. It would join Coca-Cola Co. and Ford Motor Co. as major sponsors. Fox and AT&T declined comment. "American Idol" viewers call in to vote for contestants on the show, which could fit with AT&T service offerings. Fox had initially priced a sponsor package for the coming season at $26 million.

Bennett joins DDB in San Francisco

[san francisco] Lisa Bennett, a former top creative executive at Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, will join Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, San Francisco, in March as exec VP-executive creative director, a new post at that agency. Ms. Bennett formerly held the same title at Burnett, where she had led creative on such key accounts as H.J. Heinz Co., Ball Park Brands' Ball Park Franks and the U.S. Postal Service. Ken Dudwick, managing partner for creative at DDB San Francisco, continues at the agency. Ms. Bennett will team with agency president Mary Moudry and oversee day to day creative duties and new business. Clients include Clorox Co. and Heinz Frozen Foods.

Wilmot exiting D'Arcy; to lead IPG's BK work

[new york] Mark Wilmot, a senior executive at Publicis' D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, New York, was named client management director by Interpublic and will integrate the work of Interpublic agencies handling the $300 million Burger King account, Burger King said. At D'Arcy, Mr. Wilmot was exec VP-management director and had run Burger King's field marketing account before that business was shifted from D'Arcy to Interpublic's Deutsch, Los Angeles.

Mercedes ads tout all-wheel drive

[montvale, n.j.] DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes-Benz USA promotes the benefits of its 4Matic all-wheel drive in TV commercials from Omnicom's Merkley Newman Harty, New York. One spot breaking this week on national broadcast and cable TV networks shows the C240 sport wagon rescuing a postal truck driver stuck in the snow. Another shows a C240 sedan safely maneuvering the same dangerous curve in different weather conditions. A similar spot for 4Matic broke last week. Spending was not disclosed.

AOL advertiser Veritas discloses subpoena

[mountain view, calif.] Veritas Software Corp. disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that federal investigators have subpoenaed records from the software maker in their probe of accounting practices at AOL Time Warner. Veritas said it supplied information regarding a September 2000 deal to sell $50 million in software and services to AOL and buy $20 million in advertising. AOL has acknowledged the SEC is reviewing three transactions involving its America Online unit.

FYI . . .

Yum Brands' KFC denied Jason Alexander is out as its ad spokesman, though several executives close to the marketer said last week Mr. Alexander's role is over. A KFC spokesman also said it has "tremendous confidence in BBDO" and is "not meeting with other agencies for national creative." KFC last week reviewed BBDO creative without Mr. Alexander, executives close to KFC said. ... WPP Group's Y&R Advertising formed a Global Leadership Council of 28 executives from various marketing disciplines and geographic regions. It will meet quarterly "but work together daily on client matters," Y&R said. ... Gillette Co. handed Havas' Arnold Worldwide a consumer print assignment in Europe for its Oral B oral care brand, but a Gillette spokeswoman said the move is not a prelude to a broader role for Arnold on the global account. Spending was not disclosed. Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide has been global agency of record for Oral-B since June 2001. Arnold handles advertising for dental professionals. ... "Farmer check-off" funding for the National Pork Board and its $30 million research and promotion program will continue under a court order issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati. The Justice Department is appealing a ruling by a U.S. District court judge in Michigan that the pork program's mandatory payments are unconstitutional. Interpublic's Campbell-Mithun, Chicago, handles the Pork Board. ... Attempts in Congress to strip WPP's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, of its White House youth media anti-drug campaign account were sidelined until at least next year as Congress approved temporary funding measures. ... Amid an ad agency review, Nikon breaks a TV spot Nov. 18 featuring actor Val Kilmer for its Coolpix 2000 digital camera. In the spot, created by dealer communications shop Source Communications, Hackensack, N.J., Mr. Kilmer admits he's intimidated by digital photography but shows how easy and "simply cool" it is to use. Spending was not disclosed.

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