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WPP-Italia's Weber files numerous libel warnings
ROME ( -- WPP-Italia Chief Operating Officer Daniela Weber, caught in the middle of the Sorrell-Benatti saga, last week filed more than a dozen libel warnings against British and Italian newspapers as well as several trade publications, ordering them to halt the use of images of her and references to her personal life. Ms. Weber is a reluctant player in the ongoing feud between WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell and former WPP country manager Marco Benatti.

Masterfoods parks $38M Snickers account at TBWA
HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. ( -- Masterfoods USA moved the creative assignment for its Snickers brand to Omnicom Group's TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, following a review of roster shops. Incumbent BBDO, also part of Omnicom, and independent Nitro, both in New York, also pitched. Spending on Snickers was $38 million in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence. See QwikFIND aar49w

Amazon, studios consider movie download service
SEATTLE ( -- Amazon is set to upend the movie-distribution business with a digital download service and is in talks with multiple major movie studios, according to people familiar with the situation. While there are rights agreements to work out and bandwidth remains an issue, just as ABC's deal with Apple's iTunes jumpstarted digital downloads among TV networks, signing one major studio could spark a move among movies studios. Amazon and the studios involved either didn't respond to calls for comment or refused to confirm the talks. See QwikFIND aar49y

McClatchy seen as top Knight Ridder bidder
SAN JOSE, Calif. ( -- McClatchy Co. emerged as the top bidder for Knight Ridder with a reported offer of $4.8 billion in cash and stock, followed by a non-binding cash bid of $4.7 billion from a group of equity firms including Thomas H. Lee Partners and the Texas Pacific Group. Knight Ridder scheduled a weekend board meeting to consider the bids. See QwikFIND aar49p

Isdell gets $4.5M bonus, while Minnick gets $1.2M
ATLANTA ( -- Coca-Cola Co. paid Chairman-CEO Neville Isdell $1.5 million in salary and $4.5 million in bonus for his first complete year at the company's helm. Factors included meeting performance goals, improving employee morale, setting a growth manifesto and strategy, and leadership. The beverage giant paid Mary Minnick, president-marketing, strategy and innovation, $594,825 in salary and $1.2 million in bonus, with part of her pay reflecting her earlier international post. Coke volume dropped 0.1% for the year; its flagship brand suffered a 2% decline in volume for the year.

Hershey turns to buzz, Web for Take 5 relaunch
HERSHEY, Pa. ( -- Hershey Corp.'s Take 5 will take a new tack starting today that includes buzz marketing, Web games, a consumer-created ad contest, sampling and TV efforts surrounding the theme, "Taste and Believe." The estimated $30 million blitz for the brand was created by Havas' Arnold, New York, handles. See QwikFIND aar49x

Ford forced to consider anti-gay proposal
WASHINGTON ( -- The SEC last week rejected Ford Motor Co.'s request to keep an anti-gay proposal off its annual meeting proxy, meaning shareholders will vote on the issue this May. Shareholder and Illinois physician Robert E. Hurley, contending that "homosexual acts ... have been illegal in this country for hundreds of years," had petitioned Ford to put up for vote a proposal to remove sexual orientation from its employment policy. Ford told the SEC that removing the policy would hurt recruitment efforts and "have a material adverse impact on the marketing and sale of company products," but the SEC rejected Ford's legal argument. A Ford spokeswoman said the issue will go on the proxy with a Ford statement of opposition pending receipt by the automaker of the SEC's official response.

Red Bull buys, renames New York soccer team
NEW YORK ( -- Red Bull Co., the Austrian-based company that makes and markets Red Bull energy drink, announced this morning an agreement to purchase the New York/New Jersey Metrostars of Major League Soccer and to re-brand the team as Red Bull New York. Financial details were not disclosed, but executives familiar with the matter put the purchase price near $100 million. See QwikFIND aar49r

Havas board taps Fernando Rodes as CEO
PARIS ( -- The board of directors at French holding company Havas on March 10 elected Fernando Rodes, most recently CEO of Havas' media planning unit MPG, as its new CEO. Mr. Rodes, 46, succeeds Philippe Wahl, a former banker brought to the company last July by chairman Vincent Bollore. Havas also reported full-year earnings of $81 million for 2005 on revenues of $1.74 billion versus 2004 earnings of $75 million on revenues of $1.78 billion. See QwikFIND aar48w

FYI ...
Robert (Bob) Alter, the founder of The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau (CAB), died March 9 at 77. His early efforts were integral in the development of today's ad-supported cable landscape. Mr. Alter most recently served as a vice chairman of the CAB. ... Brad Bradshaw, 51, currently VP-general manager, Nissan Division of Nissan North America, will take over sales, marketing and product planning for Nissan and Infiniti, the automaker said. Jed Connelly, 60, is retiring as senior VP-sales and marketing at the end of June. ... Independent WestWayne, Atlanta, has named former eBay consultant and AOL executive Richard Ward president-CEO. Mr. Ward will be charged with helping WestWayne, one of the largest independent ad agencies, to break out of its regional reputation and gain some national traction. The agencies clients include BellSouth, Marriott International and Publix Supermarkets.

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