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[Chicago] Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, Minneapolis, is agreeing to reduce its fees for 12 months for client United Airlines in a settlement subject to the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, according to a Jan. 20 court filing. The discount will be based on United's spending. Also, Fallon is paying United $121,578 to cover credits owed before the airline filed for Chapter 11 in 2002. Fallon is paying an additional $150,000 to resolve a dispute over payments it received from United during the 90 days preceding the bankruptcy filing. Fallon declined to comment. United didn't return a call.

Kanner, Gebhardt leave The Firm for new venture

[Los Angeles] Mitch Kanner and Chris Gebhardt have departed as partners of Firm Brands at Hollywood-based management entity The Firm, and are expected to shortly announce a new venture in the branded-entertainment area. The two had been with The Firm since merging their consultancy shop, Integrated Entertainment Partners, with the company last March. Neither could be reached for comment. The Firm was also unavailable for comment by press time.

JPMorgan taps Zenith for buying and planning

[New York] JPMorgan Chase hired Publicis' ZenithMedia to handle media buying and planning, according to executives close to the review. A bank spokeswoman would not comment. The review included Aegis Group's Carat and Havas' MPG. Prior to JPMorgan's merger with Bank One, Carat was the media incumbent for Bank One. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media handled media for Chase. It was not involved in the final round. See QwikFIND aaq25p

Davie-Brown moves Meyer up to president

[Los Angeles] Product-placement shop Davie-Brown Entertainment, a unit of Omnicom Group, promoted Tom Meyer to president, replacing recently departed executive Tera Hanks. Ms. Hanks is leaving the firm to begin a branded entertainment venture. Omnicom says Davie-Brown will remain a standalone agency, as part of the holding company's Diversified Agency Services Group.

`Apprentice' premiere wins 18-49 demographic

[New York] NBC's premiere of the third season of "The Apprentice" ranked No. 1 in its time slot for 18-49-year-olds, according to early ratings information. The show was up 12% in that demographic and 1.5 million viewers over the second season premiere on Sept. 9, 2004 (but down from the January `04 season one premiere). The reality show also helped draw additional viewers to both "Joey" and "ER." The strength of "The Apprentice" is viewed as a crucial indicator of NBC's strength the rest of the season. Preliminary Nielsen numbers, provided by NBC, show 18-49 averages on Thursday night are 7.5/19 for NBC against CBS's 4.2/11. NBC drew 16 million total viewers against CBS on 13.5 million. Fox drew 6.8 million. (See story, P. 8)

Cablevision to sell Voom to Echostar

[New York] Cablevision has agreed to sell its struggling satellite service Rainbow DBS, which markets programming under the name Voom, to Colorado-based Echostar Communications for $200 million. Cablevision also said on Jan. 20 that it would seek "strategic alternatives" for its other Rainbow cable channels which include American Movie Classics; Independent Film Channel and Women's Entertainment. The move sent Cablevision's stock higher on Jan. 21. Interpublic's Mullen holds the creative portion of the account.

Cadillac to launch film contest during Super Bowl

[Detroit] Cadillac said it will launch an online film contest on Super Bowl Sunday to build awareness of its go-fast V-Series models. From Feb. 6 through Feb. 17, people can submit five-second films to The General Motors Corp. brand tied with the director and cast of MGM's "Be Cool," a sequel to "Get Shorty." The brand will put the url on its :05 spots airing during the Super Bowl and promote it via a Feb. 7 online ad blitz. Publicis' Chemistri, Troy, Mich., handled.

European Commission set to rule on WPP, Grey deal

[Brussels] The European Commission faces a deadline today to make an antitrust ruling on WPP Group's acquisition of Grey Global Group. Bloomberg, citing an unidentified source, said the deal had cleared antitrust hurdles, setting the stage for Grey shareholders to vote on the sale. The two agency holding companies in September agreed to merge, but the deal hit an unexpected roadblock in November when the European Commission asked for additional information about the European media buying clout of the combined WPP (MindShare, Mediaedge:cia) and Grey ( MediaCom). WPP refiled its merger application with the commission, the EU's regulatory body, on Dec. 10.

P&G readies launch of value Basic brand

[Cincinnati] Procter & Gamble Co. is preparing a national launch of Basic, a new value sub-brand for its Charmin toilet paper and Bounty paper towels. Charmin Basic will hit stores next month, with Bounty to follow in April. Basic packages will cost 15% to 20% less than base Charmin and Bounty products. Publicis' Publicis Worldwide, New York, handles Basic along with other P&G tissue-towel brands, but a P&G spokeswoman said the Basic launch won't get media support. Marketing will focus on in-store efforts, she said

Sega, ESPN, BK, Rainier in Battle of the Brands

[Los Angeles] Sega, ESPN, Burger King and Rainier Beer will compete in the first ever Battle of the Brands competition, co-sponsored by the Association of National Advertisers and the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. The competition, which will take place at Ad Age's Madison & Vine Conference Feb. 16, rewards marketers for the successful use of entertainment properties in their brand marketing programs.

Anheuser-Busch taps Euro for B-to-the-E work

[St. Louis] Anheuser-Busch has tapped Havas' Euro RSCG, Chicago, to do project work for its new B-to-the-E caffeinated, ginseng-infused beer, the brewer confirmed. A-B is rolling out the brew, packaged in a sleek 10-ounce can, to reclaim 21-to-27 year olds who are passing up beer in favor of spirits.

Air America back in L.A. via Clear Channel deal

[New York] Clear Channel will convert Los Angeles local sports talk station KXTA 1150 AM to a progressive talk station KTLK, hosting radio network Air America. The format change, scheduled for Feb. 3, signals a rebound for Air America, which many industry watchers dismissed when, shortly after its debut, it lost a presence in Los Angeles and Chicago, the nation's second and third-largest radio markets. In addition to Los Angeles, Clear Channel also recently announced it would launch progressive talk formats in Cincinnati, Detroit and Washington, bringing its total number of progressive talk stations to 24. See QwikFIND aaq26k

FYI ...

American Honda Motor Co. inked a 10-year alliance with Walt Disney Co.'s Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. The automaker will be the park's official vehicle and motorcycle and sponsor the park's 50th Anniversary fireworks show starting in May. Honda said it is exploring other partnerships with Walt Disney. ... Subway Restaurants will use the Super Bowl as its first national promotion for the chain's Fresh Toasted sub sandwiches and will roll the first creative campaign from Omnicom's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, according to knowledgeable executives.

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