The Week

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Pfizer was slapped twice for its advertising last week by the federal government. First, a federal judge in New York ruled that spots claiming Pfizer's Listerine mouthwash is as effective as flossing are "false and misleading." Pfizer will deploy about 4,000 of its workers and spend $2 million to replace not only the ads themselves, but to place stickers over the claim on Listerine bottles and to remove similar advertisements that hang on bottlenecks. Later in the week, the Food and Drug Administration warned Pfizer that it left out important risk information for anti-arthritis drugs Celebrex and Bextra. Pfizer had already stopped all consumer advertising for Celebrex last month after learning of possible increased heart risk. The FDA commended the company for doing so, but in the letter asked that it "avoid disseminating similarly misleading promotion for your products in the future." QwikFIND aaq23n

VW hooks up with NBC Universal

NBC Universal has a new car partner: Volkswagen has agreed to pay an estimated $200 million to associate itself with the company's TV shows, movies and theme parks. VW takes the place of Toyota Motor Co., which ended a similar three-year promotional partnership with NBC Universal last year, and DaimlerChrysler's Dodge before that. As part of the three- to five-year deal, VW will get first choice of films from Universal Pictures it wants its cars to appear in and co-promote. It will also get the first opportunity to integrate its vehicles into TV shows that air on NBC, Bravo, the Sci-Fi Channel and USA Network, and build marketing campaigns around them. The deal encompasses DVD releases as well as signs and car placements at Universal's three theme parks in California, Florida and Spain. VW will open an office on the Universal Studios lot to work with writers and filmmakers on ways to integrate their cars into projects.

Euro RSCG ends Intel relationship

Last week's decision by Euro RSCG Worldwide to quit the review of chipmaker Intel's $300 million account ended one of the longest-running agency-client relationships and put the pressure on the agency, as well as MPG, its media-buying sibling, to regain soon-to-disappear revenue. "It has become increasingly clear that Intel's drive toward business transformation would inevitably lead to a change in agencies," read a Euro statement. "After much consideration, Euro RSCG decided its talent and resources would be better focused on our current clients." Intel, which began working with Euro in 1991, grew to become one of the agency's largest accounts, representing just under 5% of Euro's global revenue and less than 3% of parent Havas' global revenue. Now the agency is scrambling to win new business. Overseas, Euro's London office was quick to say it was in line for the $80 million, pan-European account from LG Electronics. (See World, P. 14.) Euro also now needs to put considerable resources forward in the global review for a piece of Nokia business. QwikFIND aaq23t


Wal-Mart Stores broke ads in 100 newspapers nationwide to fight off attacks on its employee-relations record. The ads feature an open letter from President-CEO H. Lee Scott directing readers to a Web site,, touting the company's employee benefits and community involvement. ... Mattel retained Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, to work on its American Girl doll line. QwikFIND aaq23p. ... Y&R, the advertising-agency unit of WPP Group's Young & Rubicam Brands, last week fired 10% of the staff in its New York office, a move anticipated by observers (AA, Jan. 10). An agency spokeswoman, who confirmed the layoffs, would not comment on the number of staff involved. QwikFIND aaq24d. ... After generating a PR bonanza by giving away Pontiac G6s on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac in February will dole out new sport vans on "Live with Regis and Kelly." The morning talk show will give away more than $1 million worth of its Montana SV6 sport vans and other prizes. QwikFIND aaq23v

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