The Week

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As George W. Bush distanced his administration from the Armstrong Williams public relations scandal last week, House Democratic leaders and Democrats on the House Committee on Government Reform released a report showing the Bush administration has spent $88 million on public relations contracts, an amount that has grown 128%, or by $50 million, since 2000, the last year of the Clinton administration. The agencies identified as getting the biggest share of the contracts over the last four years were Ketchum Communications (which handled the Education Department contract) at $97 million; Matthews Media Group, $52 million; and Fleishmann Hillard (which handles the PR portion of the White House youth anti-drug account) at $41 million. In 2004, 40% of the PR contracts worth $37 million were awarded without competitive bidding, according to the report. New legislation was also proposed last week by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. Known as the Federal Propaganda Prohibition Act, it would codify regulations that government-funded activities should not be used for propaganda. QwikFIND aaq27x

Effort to address SUV safety debuts

Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, created a fictional, hairy animal named esuvee" for an integrated, year-long sport utility safety campaign breaking on national cable TV today. John Hobbs, an art director at the agency, created the critter because the estimated $30 million blitz was not allowed to use actual SUVs. The rodeo-style theme, said Kevin Roddy, executive creative director, is mastering your SUV. The tag is "How do you ride?" Peppercom, New York, is handling public relations, events and buzz marketing with costumed street teams in Manhattan today handing out hairy-paw keychains promoting Bartle Bogle, in which Publicis holds a stake, won the account a year ago in a pitch headed by the Florida attorney general's office. The ad budget stems from a $51 million settlement that Ford Motor Co. agreed to pay after all 50 states sued the automaker for false advertising of its Ford Explorer SUV. The campaign includes print ads, a 60-second in-theater spot and deals with, and others. The main target is men, 21 to 39 years old. QwikFIND aaq26L

M&V gets first Hispanic shop

The first U.S. Hispanic ad agency with a focus on branded entertainment is opening this week in Miami. The Lab, headquartered on a 46-foot boat, is headed by Hector Prado, 37, a Colombian who was creative development director at Zubi Advertising, Miami, and Pablo Trench, 39, a former VP of client services at Publicis Groupe's Bromley Advertising, San Antonio. Mr. Trench was most recently VP-managing director of Promofilm US, a production company that produces TV shows for Universal NBC's Spanish-language network Telemundo and English-language networks including Fox and VH1. At Promofilm, Mr. Trench created a branded entertainment division whose first project was a Lowe's-backed home improvement show called "Lo dejo en tus manos" ("I leave it in your hands") now running on Telemundo. QwikFIND aaq28f

Deutsch pulls out of Mitsubishi review

Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, Los Angeles, unexpectedly withdrew Jan. 24 from defending its Mitsubishi Motors North America estimated $200 million creative and media planning account. Deutsch was one of five finalists announced by the troubled carmaker just hours before it withdrew. A Deutsch executive said staying in the pitch "didn't make sense" after it looked at "the long-term viability of the financial situation for the agency." Deutsch will work on the account through March. The client also revealed it moved its collateral account from Deutsch to Hamon & Associates, Santa Monica, in December. (See chart below.) QwikFIND aaq27k

Turner, Enrico to get AAF honor

Media mogul Ted Turner and former PepsiCo chairman Roger A. Enrico have been elected to the Advertising Hall of Fame, one of the industry's highest honors. The pair, along with Harry M. Jacobs, chairman emeritus of Interpublic Group of Cos' Martin Agency and Thomas J. Burrell, chairman emeritus of Burrell Communications Group, will be inducted at a luncheon on March 15 at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, in Manhattan. The Advertising Hall of Fame, run by the American Advertising Federation, was begun in 1948 and has 170 members, including this year's honorees. This year, the Hall of Fame's executive committee is chaired by David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Group's Carat North America.

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