The Week

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Time Warner Chairman-CEO Richard Parsons, during a conference call with analysts last week, indicated the company was not about to sell America Online, which accounts for around 20% of its overall revenue. When asked about the future of AOL as a part of Time Warner, Mr. Parsons responded, "We have a lot of confidence that this business has a lot of upside." He added that AOL was catching its stride. "If you were to conclude from that, [that] we are not likely to move quickly to realize our value, you would be right." While AOL's revenue was described as essentially flat, operating income grew in part because of favorable exchange rates at AOL Europe and growth of broadband. Subscription revenue rose 1%, while advertising revenue fell 5% to $214 million. Time Warner released strong first-quarter results with profit doubling on contributions from its film and cable units and AOL. QwikFIND aap58c

ARF: Consumers firmly in control

Interpublic Group of Cos. Chairman-CEO David Bell addressed the 700-plus attendees at last week's Advertising Research Foundation meeting , predicting a boom in sports and entertainment marketing along with experiential marketing and events that would allow marketers to reach consumers in unorthodox ways. The meeting, a month before the May upfront TV sales season, kept the focus on other media. Marketers were told to get smarter about the Internet and other forms of media because consumers are taking greater control to avoid a bombardment of commercial messages.

Verizon Wireless chooses McCann

The Test Man will live on. Verizon Wireless, looking for a creative evolution of its quality network strategy as offerings are expanded to ring tones and other services, named Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann Erickson, New York, agency for its estimated $400 million account following a review which began with nine agencies but narrowed to Havas' Arnold Worldwide, Boston and McCann. "This was never a review of our strategy," said Marvin Davis, VP-advertising, but rather a search for "a creative evolution" of a strategy positioning the company as a quality provider as embodied in a nerdy-looking employee who continually tests the service asking "Can you hear me now?" Interpublic's Universal McCann picked up media planning, while media buying remains at Publicis' Groupe's Zenith. Pile & Co., Boston, was the consultant. QwikFIND aap57o

Comcast drops bid for Mouse House

After making an unsolicited $54 billion bid to take over Walt Disney Co., Comcast Corp. withdrew it last week. With the bid, the world's largest cable TV operator was on a path to create the world's largest media company. It's clear now, analysts say, that Comcast is on the hunt for content, but it's still unclear how the company intends to get it. Disney's board, which this week announced its unanimous support of Chairman Michael Eisner, had rejected the Comcast bid as too low. The two companies had no formal talks on the matter, with Comcast's CEO Brian Roberts saying publicly that Mr. Eisner had refused to discuss the bid in detail. Roy Disney, nephew of Disney's founder Walt Disney and a former Disney board member, and Stanley Gold, his business partner and former Disney board member, blamed the "do nothing" board for keeping Mr. Eisner in place and casting a pall over the entertainment giant. QwikFIND aap58q


The National Football League will name Phil Guarascio, General Motors Corp.'s former advertising and media czar, to head its marketing, sales and advertising divisions. Mr. Guarascio, 61, replaces John Collins, the league's senior VP-marketing and sales, who resigned last month to become president of the Cleveland Browns. Mr. Guarascio has been an independent adviser to the NFL since his 2000 retirement from GM. QwikFIND aap57z ... FedEx Kinko's Office & Print Center is expected to break its first nationwide campaign in the fall under its new owner, FedEx. The effort will highlight the new name and the center's one-stop shopping, said a FedEx spokesman. TV, radio, print and online ads come from its agency, Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, which has handled FedEx since 1989. Kinko's received $22 million in measured media in 2002 when its agency was Omnicom Group's GSD&M, Austin, Texas, but it withered to $3.5 million last year when the account was taken in house. ... Dana Anderson, until last week the president-CEO of Interpublic Group of Co.'s Foote Cone & Belding's Chicago office, this week takes the same role at Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Chicago. QwikFIND aap57q

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