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In an effort to reinvigorate the struggling Interpublic Group of Cos.' agency, Lowe Worldwide President-CEO Tony Wright last week unveiled a plan to reorganize its network with an emphasis on 11 markets and one unit, Lowe Healthcare. The plan eliminates Lowe's worldwide board as well as a layer of regional management, although Mr. Wright insists that no offices will be closed and would not say how many people will depart. Two top executives-Adrian Holmes, chairman and worldwide chief creative officer, as well as Mark Goldstein, global chief marketing officer-left. "We're evaluating our staffing plans over the next 90 days," Mr. Wright said. Other areas under scrutiny include the ownership stakes Lowe has in agencies around the world. Mr. Wright's plan is the latest in a string of attempts by management to revive a storied agency that has been battered and bruised in the past decade. In March 2003, Lowe consolidated back-office and administrative functions in some markets with direct-marketing sibling Draft and also created a consulting unit, called Plus, which disbanded after a year. QwikFIND aaq33u

AOL, Buick get `Desperate'

In the latest move to assert itself as a broadband player, America Online signed General Motors Corp.'s Buick as the exclusive sponsor for a series of "Desperate Housewives" video recaps it began offering online Feb. 14. The deal is an extension of Buick's advertising campaign for the TV show, which include in-show product placements of Buick models. Buick declined to say how much it is paying for the AOL placements. AOL's 23-second ads for the Buick LaCrosse will run just before the video clips roll each Monday morning following the Sunday evening episode. The online ads are shortened versions of Buick TV commercials. QwikFIND aaq331

Ask Jeeves moves to boost share

In an effort to expand its narrow niche in the search-engine market, Ask Jeeves launched one of its largest marketing pushes in years. One of the original search engines, Ask Jeeves has since been overshadowed by mammoths Google and Yahoo but hopes to find a way to cash in on the boom in search-based advertising. Google dominates the category with revenue of $2.08 billion, or 54% of 2004 U.S. search revenue of $3.84 billion, according to eMarketer, a New York-based research company. Yahoo, which doesn't break out revenue from search advertising, has an estimated one third of the marketplace, said David Hallerman, senior analyst at eMarketer. The remainder of the market consists of a number of second-tier players, like Ask Jeeves, Alta Vista, and Lycos. The ad effort consists of six humorous commercials about individuals who need information going to the wrong source, one of which is "American Idol" castoff William Hung. Each 15-second spot ends with the tagline "Ask Jeeves. And get what you're searching for." Agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, San Francisco, part of Omnicom Group, created the campaign. QwikFIND aaq33L


In a move that further underscores the growing importance of search-engine advertising to major agencies, WWP Group's mOne Worldwide has started mSearch North America, a search-engine marketing unit. QwikFIND aaq33x ... Bank of America shifted media-buying and planning duties from Interpublic's Deutsch, New York, to sibling Initiative Worldwide. Bank of America spent $197 million in measured media between January and October 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence, and $166 million in 2003, or an annualized $240 million. Four months ago, Bank of America moved creative duties out of Deutsch to another Interpublic shop, Draft. QwikFIND aaq33j ... Future Networks will launch this September its first magazine aimed at women. Scrapbook Answers will be published nine times a year and its initial distribution will be 150,000. It will compete against Primedia's monthly Creating Keepsakes, and address the rapidly-growing market of scrapbook enthusiasts, for which surveys show double-digit spending growth.

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