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[Northfield, Ill.] Betsy Holden is resigning from Kraft Foods effective June 30. A year and a half after Roger Deromedi took the full reins at Kraft and Ms. Holden was demoted from head of the North American business to take on the role of president of global marketing and category development, the 23-year veteran of the company is stepping down. Ms. Holden will take a sabbatical to spend time with her family before resuming her career elsewhere, Kraft said in a statement, adding that Paula Sneed, formerly senior VP-marketing resources, will take on the new title of exec VP-global marketing resources & initiatives.

Gillette to re-label M3 Power packaging

[Boston] Gillette Co. will spend an estimated $1.6 million to re-label millions of M3 Power razors on store shelves and in warehouses after a U.S. District Court in Connecticut clarified a previous ruling to say it must. In the prior ruling in a lawsuit brought by Energizer Holdings' Schick, the court ordered the company to stop using claims it said were literally false that the battery-powered vibrating razor raises facial hair, thus making it easier to cut. Gillette said it believed the ruling applied only to animations and graphics that had previously been removed from ads and packages, not to the word claim that "gentle micropulses stimulate hair up and away from skin." The court ruled June 20 that the word claim also falsely "connotes" that the razor raises hair.

Meridian to shutter after losing Kmart biz

[Troy, Mich.] Meridian, which has handled Kmart's ad circulars since 1992 will fold in early 2006, an apparent victim of the retailer's acquisition of Sears, Roebuck & Co. Chicago's Schawk. acquired Meridian earlier this year. It will transfer the work to Ambrosi; its Chicago unit already handles Sears Holdings, said Meridian's Tasha Majchrzak, general manager. The roughly 100 Meridian staffers were told June 22 most will be let go in late August.

GE reorg leaves Wright as oldest group head

[Fairfield, Conn.] General Electric Co.'s reorganization from 11 business groups into six left NBC Universal ($15 billion revenue) as one of the two smallest groups at GE ($165 billion to $170 billion revenue). With the announced retirement of two older GE executives, NBC Universal Chairman Bob Wright, 62, will be by far the oldest group head. The five others are age 48 to 54. Asked whether Mr. Wright has given any thought to retiring, a spokeswoman said: "He is and will continue to be the chairman-CEO of NBC Universal."

AMC and Loews announce merger

[New York] With the U.S. box office in its worst slump since 1985, the second and third largest theater chains last week announced a merger. Some marketing experts view the marriage of AMC Entertainment with Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. as a reaction to the shrinking market. June 17-19 marked the 17th straight weekend of year-on-year box-office losses. Theater owners say the industry is simply cyclical and partially attribute the downturn to studios releasing fewer movies. Neither company returned calls for comment.

CVS addresses privacy concerns

[Woonsocket, R.I.] CVS has shut down a section of its Web site allowing people to have information on over-the-counter drug, family-planning and incontinence-product purchase history e-mailed to them after a privacy group exposed a security flaw that could allow others to tap into the information with minimal personal information. (AA, June 20) "In light of our absolute commitment to customer privacy, we are in the process of creating additional security hurdles for accessing this purchase information," CVS said in a statement.

Bidders lining up for Callaway Golf

[Carlsbad, Calif.] Callaway Golf Co., the nation's largest manufacturer of golf clubs, said it has received unsolicited takeover bids, partially confirming a report in the Los Angeles Times early last week that Callaway was considering an all-cash, $1.2 billion offer from Thomas H. Lee Partners and insurance mogul William Foley II that would take the company private. Callaway did not say who the potential bidders were. The company said it has hired New York investment bank Lazard as an adviser. It added that "no firm offers have been made, no substantive discussions are currently under way, and neither the board nor the senior management team has reached any decisions regarding the preferred strategic direction for the company."

McD's pulls spot amid Chinese anger

[Shanghai] McDonald's Corp. apologized for a Chinese TV spot that showed a man on his knees begging for a discount at an electronics store. Consumers called the attempted humorous ad created by Leo Burnett offensive because begging is seen as humiliating . "Even though the ad has no defamatory intent whatsoever ... we very much regret the incident and apologize to the public," the company said in a statement.


Avon Products named former Estee Lauder Cos.' executive Claudia Poccia to the position of president of it struggling youth brand, Mark. Ms. Poccia, 45, will in November fill the post that has been vacant since former Mark president Deborah Fine departed in January. ... BearingPoint, the nation's No. 2 management consulting firm, has hired former AT&T marketing chief Connie Weaver, 52, as chief marketing officer. ... Marketel has been awarded the full media planning and buying for MasterCard for all of Canada, estimated at more than $8 million. ... London-based consumer PR firm Freud Communications has launched a U.S. affiliate, headed by former Miramax executive Matthew Hiltzik. ... Coca-Cola Germany has handed creative duties on its Coke Light brand to Strawberry Frog, Amsterdam. ... Online brokerage HarrisDirect handed its $20 million advertising account to independent Strawberry Frog, New York, and its media duties to Media Kitchen, part of MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners.

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