The Week

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Jim Ferguson, who was hired by Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago, to galvanize its team during McDonald's Corp.'s search for campaign ideas from its roster shops, will leave the agency after just six months. Mr. Ferguson will join Interpublic Group of Cos.' Temerlin McClain, Irving, Texas, as chairman-chief creative officer sometime in October. At DDB, he held the title of exec VP-creative consultant. The Texas native wants to be closer to his family, a DDB spokeswoman said. McDonald's decision to give lead creative duties for its soon-to-debut campaign, built around the tagline "I'm Lovin' It," to Heye & Partner, a unit of DDB based in Germany, may have played a role in Mr. Ferguson's departure. That he had been hired as a creative consultant by his friend Bob Scarpelli, DDB Chicago's chairman and U.S. chief creative officer, seemed to indicate the post was temporary. QwikFIND aao92k

Losses expected to continue for MSLO

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported it expected to post net losses for 2003, and expects poor earnings results from the quarter ending June 30 to accelerate. Total revenues for the most recent quarter declined 16.3% to $65.8 million. Operating income dropped 88.5% to $1.5 million and net income fell 86.2% to $931,000. Chief Financial Officer James Follo forecast a net loss of between $7 million to $9 million for full-year 2003-a substantially steeper loss than analysts had expected. Subscription prices were cut to stem circulation declines at its flagship Martha Stewart Living-which is the largest contributor to the publishing sector and accounts for over half of its revenue. Mr. Follo said that an announcement on the title's rate base, currently at 2.3 million, was expected within 30 days. Ratings of Ms. Stewart's daily "Martha Stewart Living" show are down as well this quarter, said President-CEO Sharon Patrick. Sales of Martha-branded goods at Kmart registered declines even after factoring out discontinued products and Kmart store closings. Corporate-overhead increases resulting from Ms. Stewart's woes, Mr. Follo said, was costing the company approximately an additional $2 million per quarter. QwikFIND aao91y

`Penthouse' parent files for bankruptcy

General Media, which publishes Penthouse, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a Manhattan court on August 12. The company missed a $41.8 million bond payment due in April. Penthouse, as comments in company filings confirm, has been marginalized as alternate means of accessing pornographic images have grown wildly popular. As recently as the end of 1998, Penthouse's circulation neared one million. At the end of last year, its circulation was 530,091. Bob Guccione, General Media's Chairman-CEO, last month narrowly averted a foreclosure on his palatial home, which is described in company filings as "one of the largest residences in Manhattan."

Miller reorganizes, lays off 20% of staff

Following a "detailed assessment" of the organization in recent months, SABMiller will cut 200 jobs, or 20% of the corporate office staff at unit Miller Brewing Co. by Sept. 1. A spokesman said the restructuring was just one of several initiatives, from sales and distribution to cost improvements, designed to improve the brand's market performance. Miller is the No. 2 beer marketer in the U.S. but its sales and market share have declined for several years. The spokesman also indicated the company is rethinking its portfolio of brands, which includes Miller Genuine Draft, Miller Lite and Pilsner Urquell, and their marketing efforts. Meanwhile, the company has continued its agency review for overall corporate branding efforts. Last week, the brewer met with general market and Hispanic market finalists, with follow-up sessions scheduled for this week. QwikFIND aao91z

HP pushes 158 new products

Hewlett-Packard Corp. this fall breaks a $300 million marketing campaign backing 158 consumer products intended to allow consumers to "enjoy more" of the benefits of easier to use tech products. CEO Carly Fiornia said the campaign will "show you what it means to be at the center of digital experiences," starting with a digital photography effort for the holiday season. An HP spokeswoman said Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, will handle.


Food & Drug Administration hearings on DTC drug advertising research were set for Sept. 22 and Sept. 23 in Washington, D. C. FDA specifically invited outside researchers to appear. Organizations wishing to present research findings have until Aug. 29 to register with FDA. ... Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits named three finalists for its review of its $20 million advertising account. Advancing to final presentations in mid-September are two Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies, Averett, Free & Ginsberg, New York, and Austin-Kelley, Atlanta, and independent agency Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago. Agency I.D., Atlanta, is conducting the review. The AFC Enterprises fast-food chain called the review in June after ending its relationship with Interpublic's Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, New York. A decision is expected at the end of September. QwikFIND aao92h. ... Gillette Co. filed suit in U.S. District Court, Boston, against rival Energizer Holdings, alleging the new four-bladed Schick Quattro razor violates a patent for Gillette's three-bladed Mach 3 shaving system. Quattro began shipping to retailers earlier this month. This is the first lawsuit between Gillette and Energizer over razors since Energizer bought the Schick-Wilkinson Sword business from Pfizer earlier this year, though the two have been in court frequently over the years in litigation involving Gillette's Duracell and Energizer batteries. QwikFIND aao92c.

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