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[Montvale, N.J.] Smart USA has narrowed the number of agencies to eight for the creative account for its 2006 U.S. launch, executives close to the Mercedes-Benz USA unit said. Agencies said to be still in the running, according to executives close to the matter are: Creature, Seattle; Mad Dogs & Englishmen, New York; Omnicom Group's Martin/Williams, Minneapolis; Strawberry Frog, New York; and Venables Bell & Partners, San Francisco. None of the agencies returned calls. Scott Keogh, general manager of Smart, denied the list was cut to eight, saying the marketer is meeting with "a lot of different people ... then we'll go into a traditional pitch." The role of consultant AAR Partners, New York, in the review has ended, he added.

Berlin Cameron joins $150M Jaguar review

[Irvine, Calif.] WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York, is preparing to pitch Jaguar's estimated $150 million global advertising account, according to several executives familiar with the matter. The Ford Motor Co. unit on Nov. 5 confirmed that the creative and direct portions of the business are in review, and said a consultant would be hired. Last week, a Jaguar North America spokesman said that no consultant has been hired yet and called reports of WPP's offering up a second agency "speculation." A spokesman for Berlin Cameron had no comment. Incumbent Y&R Advertising, teamed with Wunderman, is defending the business, an agency spokeswoman said.

Crown Royal, Jack Daniels sign on as Nascar sponsors

[Detroit] Diageo's Crown Royal and Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's are the first two distilled spirits brands to pour sponsorship money into Nascar, executives said, just days after the auto racing league announced it was lifting its self-imposed ban on hard liquor sponsors. A spokesman for General Electric Co.'s NBC, which shares broadcast rights for Nascar with Fox, said its announcers will continue to refer to cars by "the best identifier, whether that is the number [of the car] or the sponsor's logo."

Lyne in, Patrick out at Martha Stewart

[New York] The board of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia installed Susan Lyne, 53, as president-CEO on Nov. 11, leading to the resignation of Sharon Patrick, Martha Stewart's longtime business partner. The executive change is a stunning rebuke for Ms. Patrick, who engineered the deal that freed Martha Stewart from a contract with Time Inc. and allowed the formation of one of the media world's powerhouses of the late `90s. Ms. Patrick was president of the company until the early stages of Ms. Stewart's legal problems related to the sale of ImClone stock. When Ms. Stewart stepped down as CEO, Ms. Patrick assumed that title also. An ex-ABC exec, Ms. Lyne intends to return Martha Stewart to the core of the business when Ms. Stewart completes her prison term. "We fully intend to restore the Martha Stewart brand," she said. "I think the Martha Stewart brand and the people are the biggest assets and we'll embrace them." See QwikFIND aaq12a

American Family complains about `Ryan'

[Washington] The American Family Association said Nov. 12 that it has sent around 2,000 complaints to the Federal Communications Commission over the language contained in the movie "Saving Private Ryan," which aired on ABC on Nov. 11. "ABC crossed the line by airing at least 20 F-words and 12 S-words during prime-time viewing hours," said the organization in a statement. More than 20 ABC stations pre-empted the broadcast over fears that they could be fined under new decency rules. A spokeswoman for the FCC declined to comment on the number of complaints and said the commission did not discuss open cases.

Fallon drops out of running for EDS biz

[Plano, Texas] Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, is parting ways with technology services company Electronic Data Systems, known for its "Herding Cats" spot from the 2000 Super Bowl, according to an agency executive. Rob Buchner, chief marketing officer for Fallon, said the agency decided not to compete for the business in the wake of EDS recently contacting shops about its account. While EDS invested in Super Bowl ads in 2000 and 2001, its spending has dropped off in recent years. It spent only $4.5 million in 2003, according to TNS Media Services/CMR. An EDS spokeswoman said the company is trying "to better define our brand and enhance our reputation" and is seeking the perspectives of outside agencies. Discussions are in early stages and she wouldn't identify agencies. See QwikFIND aaq12l

Pfizer to roll $10M of streaming video ads

[Morris Plains, N.J.] Pfizer Consumer Healthcare plans to beef up its online advertising with streaming video media buys for next year for which Pfizer is spending up to $10 million, executives close to the deal said. Streaming ads for Pfizer products are slated to appear on MSN through the end of 2005. Pfizer did not return calls by press time. The consumer healthcare unit markets 41 products including Actifed, Bengay, Listerine, Rolaids and Visine.

FYI ...

Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, will lay off up to 25 people, about 2% of its staff, today, an agency spokeswoman confirmed. The cuts are tied to "systems changes and efficiencies." ... Interpublic Group of Cos. completed its exit from the motorsports business with the termination of its leasehold interest in the Silverstone racetrack in the U.K. Last year, Interpublic began dismantling its motorsports division, part of its late-1990s acquisitions spree that has caused the company's current financial problems. ... Kia Motors America confirmed it has pushed back presentations for its creative account by 10 days until Nov. 29 and 30 to accommodate the schedules of its executives. Kia said it expects a decision in December. ... Genentech, San Francisco, has begun contacting agencies for an unspecified account. A Genentech spokeswoman declined to comment. ... General Motors Corp. is dialing up and extending its sponsorship through 2008 with the U.S. Olympic Committee. GM will be the official auto partner of the USOC. ... The Federal Trade Commission has launched a preliminary investigation to determine whether newspaper coupon heavyweight Valassis Communications engaged in "unfair methods of competition or unfair acts and practices" in connection with pricing policy, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In an amended filing on Nov. 12, Valassis said it had received notification of the investigation from the FTC on Nov. 9 and will cooperate in the investigation.

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