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Crossfire is in Chrysler's sights

DaimlerChrysler Corp., sputtering from operating losses at its Chrysler Group, no doubt was eager to chug past 2000 to a future that includes something sleek and sexy on the horizon. The carmaker unveils the Chrysler Crossfire concept car next week at the Detroit auto show. When Chrysler design chief Trevor Creed showed the vehicle earlier to the press, he said the "expressive execution of this small coupe is tangible proof of our capability to elevate and broaden the Chrysler brand." Speaking of elevators of the Chrysler brand, Chrysler Group SVP-Global Marketing Arthur "Bud" Liebler is inspiring one of the slew of tales swirling in Detroit about changes under U.S. DaimlerChrysler Corp.'s latest Germany import-CEO Dieter Zetsche. The rumor goes that Liebler will jump to General Motors Corp., taking the top marketing slot vacated last May when Phil Guarascio exited. But Liebler emitted a hearty laugh when told of the talk and denied he was shifting to the crosstown rival.

Making Outback an `in' concept

Down Under has been top of mind, a boon for Aussie-themed Outback Steakhouse. Last summer's Olympics in Sydney raised the profile of Australia-good rub-off value for Outback, even though it didn't advertise on NBC's Olympic broadcasts. The next boost may come this month when CBS debuts "Survivor: The Australian Outback." U.S.-based Outback Steakhouse isn't a sponsor of "Survivor" either. The show's $18 million price tag for a commercial package was just too rich for Outback marketing chief Nancy Schneid. The company is notoriously budget-conscious and handles ads in-house. Besides, recalling the culinary fare on the original "Survivor," why would a steakhouse risk following an episode where hungry castaways pop a few rats on the barbie?

When Bad Andy goes good

Domino's Pizza spokespuppet Bad Andy apparently has made a New Year's resolution to change his ways. The typically mischievous creature will be on his best behavior in a spot breaking today via Deutsch, New York. The ad launches the chain's Cinnastix breadstick treat. Suppressing his trademark monkey business, Andy is positioned as a "consumer advocate" in the spot, and will simply hold signs with an offer for free breadsticks with the purchase of a $9.99 large pepperoni pizza.

Wal-Mart visits Oops-ville

Wal-Mart Stores, like so many other retailers, had a Grinchy Christmas, but waxes whimsical about it in a release: "In honor of one of our favorite authors, Dr. Suess, we have a different kind of sales summary." It then spends nine paragraphs telling the fable of "Did the Holiday Troll Steal Christmas?" Apparently, the troll kinda did, since Wal-Mart finally wraps up with these holiday morsels: "matching our internal plan for each week in the five-week accounting period would have resulted in a comparable sales gain near the bottom of the quarterly 3% to 5% range. ... We believe December's comp will be lower than the original projection." One footnote about one of Wal-Mart's "favorite authors": Whether you're in Who-ville or Bentonville, the correct spelling is Seuss.

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