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[San Francisco] Visa is again looking outside longtime agency of record BBDO for ideas for undisclosed project work, including talks with Omnicom Group sibling shop TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif. Last month, the credit card marketer, which spends about $340 million on measured media, also met with other shops outside the Omnicom fold, according to executives familiar with the talks. A TBWA spokesman declined to comment. A BBDO spokesman referred calls to Visa, which didn't return calls.

Morgan Stanley hands $75M biz to Ogilvy

[New York] Troubled investment bank Morgan Stanley has handed its $75 million advertising account to WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide following a review. Incumbent Leo Burnett, Chicago, part of the Publicis Groupe, did not participate in the review. The business will be run out of Ogilvy's New York office. Media duties, not part of the review, remain at Publicis' Starcom USA.

ANA joins Viacom challenge of FCC rule

[Washington] The Association of National Advertisers is joining Viacom's court challenge of a new Federal Communications Commission rule aimed at curbing children's advertising due to take effect Jan. 1. The rule would further restrict the amount of ads on kids' shows and could also impact Web content. Viacom and the Walt Disney Co. have argued it could eliminate the use of Sponge Bob and Mickey Mouse on some Web pages; each filed separate legal actions against the FCC. ANA, like Viacom, is arguing that the rule exceeds the authority of the FCC and violates the First Amendment.

A-B to trim 20% of agency roster

[St. Louis] Anheuser-Busch will trim its roster of nearly 20 agencies, according to an exec familiar with the matter. The cut-which could slash 20% of its shops-is part of a broader effort by new VP-Brand Management Marlene Coulis to tighten the focus of the brewer's marketing organization. A-B plans to issue tighter, more strategic creative briefs to its agencies, executives said. It also plans to test more. A-B didn't return calls.

Fox yanks `Simple Life' from midseason lineup

[Los Angeles] Fox is pulling "The Simple Life" from its midseason replacement roster. The Paris Hilton/Nichole Richie reality show is the second show to be pulled by Fox this season. "Head Cases" was the first. Production company Twentieth Century Fox Television, however, said it was due to announce a new network partner soon. NBC and The WB are reported to be in contention for the reality series.

GE Q3 results show NBC profits up 13%

[Fairfield, Conn.] General Electric reported third quarter results on Oct. 14, showing NBC Universal operating profits up by 13% to $603 million for the quarter. However revenue fell 26% to $3.03 billion in the quarter from $4.09 billion, largely due to comparisons with the 2004 Summer Olympics. On a conference call with investors, Chairman-CEO Jeffrey Immelt said NBC would continue to have a tough time through the first half of 2006.

WPP shop pumps $7M into M:Metrics

[Seattle] For the second time in two weeks, a major advertising holding company has made an investment in the mobile marketing sector. WPP Group's Kantar Group is one of the investors pumping $7 million into Series B financing for M:Metrics, a mobile measurement firm founded by Will Hodgman, founder of AdRelevance, now part of Nielsen/NetRatings. Earlier this month, Omnicom Group acquired mobile marketing firm Ipsh.

Google, Comcast, Yahoo eyeing AOL acquisition

[New York] An executive familiar with discussions confirmed Google and Comcast are in talks to jointly acquire a stake in the Time Warner-owned online business; on Oct. 14, reported Yahoo was also interested in it. (None of the parties commented on the potential deal.) The reports came only weeks after news of Microsoft's MSN's interest in AOL, whose recent strategy of offering its rich content for free has spurred the slate of suitors.

Anomaly taps Griffin to head digital media

[New York] Independent Anomaly New York has hired Jill Griffin as head of digital and emerging media, the company said. Ms. Griffin, one of Advertising Age's "Women to Watch" in 2005, was most recently senior-VP at MPG's Media Contacts. She is also president of 212, New York's Digital Advertising Club

FYI ...

The Department of Education's inspector general referred questions about the Armstrong Williams scandal to the U.S. attorney, according to an aide to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. Mr. Lautenberg and three other senators claim that $186,000 in payments to conservative commentator Armstrong Williams to tout the administration's "no child left behind" initiative were illegal. ... President Bush nominated J. Thomas Rosch, a former Federal Trade Commission consumer protection chief, to a vacant spot on the commission. ... Interpublic's Foote Cone & Belding, San Francisco, has been awarded a creative assignment for Hilton Hotels Corp.'s "Family of Hotels" account. The assignment was originally awarded to WPP Group's Y&R when it also won creative duties on Hilton's flagship brand in July. ... San Disk, one of the world's largest marketers of flash storage cards, has begun a review for its account. Euro RSCG, San Francisco, created San Disk's first campaign ,tagged "Store your world in ours." San Disk spent $11 million on advertising in 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

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