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HP outlook brightens for Interpublic shops

[palo alto, calif.] Hewlett-Packard Co., starting to assign agency duties, is poised to continue a relationship with Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, New York, which has been agency for newly acquired Compaq Computer Corp., an executive familiar with the matter said. FCB's FCBi interactive unit handles an estimated $75 million in alliance partnerships for Compaq with Yahoo!, Walt Disney Co., AOL Time Warner and others. Interpublic's DraftWorldwide, a Compaq agency, is also "in contention" to handle HP's direct-marketing business, executives said. FCB had been expected to lose most of its Compaq business following the HP-Compaq merger. HP declined to comment.

Coke seeks Sprite brand director

[ATLANTA] Coca-Cola Co., which named a new chief marketing officer for North America last week, is looking for a global brand director for Sprite, said people close to the company. Coca-Cola declined comment but it was learned executive recruiter Spencer Stuart has been asked to aid in the search. Spencer Stuart did not return calls by deadline. Sprite volume last year fell 1.5% in the U.S. Last week, Coca-Cola named Senior VP-Strategic Marketing Chris Lowe to be senior VP-chief marketing officer, North America. He reports to Jeff Dunn, Coca-Cola Co. president-chief operating officer, North America.

Exec shift sees O'Dea exit for new IPG post

[new york] Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide Co-President G. Kelly O'Dea resigned. His duties will be assumed by FCB Worldwide Co-President Gene Bartley and Worldwide Vice Chairman Charlie Taney. Mr. O'Dea will join Interpublic Group of Cos.' unit Advanced Marketing Services, where he will assist Chairman-CEO Larry Weber. A specific title was not disclosed.

First quarter ad spend climbed 1.8%: Nielsen

[new york] First-quarter U.S. ad spending rose 1.8% over year-ago levels, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus preliminary figures. Network TV gained 9%, helped by the Winter Olympics, and cable TV, spot radio and spot TV were also up. Hispanic TV, national magazines, syndicated TV and FSI coupon spending all fell. First-quarter spending for the top 10 ad categories rose 16% to $6.2 billion dollars, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Bates' Whitehead quits; Hearn takes bigger role

[new york] Bill Whitehead, president of Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Americas, New York, resigned. No successor was immediately named. Bates Worldwide Chairman-CEO David Hearns assumes Mr. Whitehead's responsibilities. In the U.S., Bates this year lost both the media and creative portions of key client Hyundai Motor North America. Mr. Whitehead did not return calls by press time.

OMD and AOL discuss multiplatform deal

[NEW YORK] AOL Time Warner and Omnicom Group's OMD USA are in early discussions for a cross-platform, multiple-client buy, executives familiar with the matter said. One executive estimated the potential deal as being worth $500 million to $600 million. An AOL Time Warner spokeswoman declined to comment. OMD representatives did not return calls by press time.

Bcom3 execs to get $300 mil-plus windfall

[chicago] Four top Bcom3 Group leaders are poised to pocket a combined $300 million-plus when Publicis Groupe buys Bcom3, Ad Age sibling Crain's Chicago Business reports today. The four are Chairman-CEO Roger Haupt, President-Chief Operating Officer Craig Brown, former Vice Chairman Richard Fizdale and former Chairman Roy Bostock. The payout is subject to changes in the value of Publicis stock and other securities. But a recent Publicis filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, using valuations from when the deal was announced in March, shows the executives would rake in a total of $312.5 million in cash, stock and other securities. Bcom3 declined to comment.

FYI . . .

Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, laid off between 20 and 30 employees, or 3% to 5% of its 675-member staff, as client billings stagnate, said an executive with knowledge of the move. Campbell Mithun did not return calls. ... Panoramic Communications, New York, is close to signing management buyout pacts for its shops Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown, Orlando, Fla., and BEN Marketing, Stamford, Conn., said executives with knowledge of the deals. "Our expectation is that [the deal] will transpire," said Peter Yesawich, president-CEO. Executives from BEN Marketing and Panoramic did not return calls by press time. ... Mars assigned the bulk of its U.S. ad business handled by Bcom3's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles to Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., as expected. TBWA, which replaces D'Arcy on Mars' agency network roster, picks up Uncle Ben's and Whiskas. Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide, New York, picks up Skittles. ... The New York-based Array alliance was cut from Chrysler Group's $40 million multicultural marketing review. Array included African-American shop Footsteps and Hispanic agency Hispan/America, both partly owned by Omnicom, and Admerasia, an Asian-American agency that's a non-equity member of Bcom3's Pangea multicultural holding company. Three other alliances remain in the review. One finalist, GlobalHue, is believed to have added Innovasia, Los Angeles, as its Asian partner. Innovasia Communications, General Motors Corp.'s Asian-American agency of record, denies the agency is taking part in the Chrysler review. GlobalHue declined to comment. ... Robert G. Wilder, 82, chairman emeritus of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Tierney Communications, Philadelphia, died May 1. Mr. Wilder was president of Lewis, Gilman & Kynett in the 1970s and 1980s. ... Privacy legislation that opens the door to suits when "sensitive" information is disclosed in violation of marketers' privacy policies was sent to the Senate after coverage of off-line marketers was added. The bill is from Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.

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