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[New York] Walt Disney Co.'s Miramax is parting ways with Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media just days before the start of the upfront. The company is moving its $264 million media account back to the Santa Monica-based independent Palisades Media Group. Palisades held the Miramax account for eight years before the studio switched shops in April 2003. Zenith North American CEO Rich Hamilton said: "We wish Miramax well. The company's assessment of our performance has been very positive." Neither Miramax nor Palisades was immediately available for comment. See QwikFIND aap63c

Glaxo gives nod to BBDO for Avandia

[Philadelphia] GlaxoSmithKline is tapping Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide to handle the Type 2 diabetes drug Avandia, which last year received $30 million in measured media. BBDO won the account in a review that included Grey Worldwide and WPP Group's Young & Rubicam, both New York, as well as the incumbent, WPP's Quantum Group, Parsippany, N.J. The agencies could not be reached or declined to comment. See QwikFIND aap63e

G&J CEO search down to short list

[New York] Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's international head Axel Ganz told staffers via email May 7 "the short list is at its shortest" in terms of its search for a new president-CEO. Insiders said the lead contender is former TV Guide President-CEO David Steward. TV Guide's Publishing Group President John Loughlin confirmed through a spokeswoman he'd received overtures from G&J some months ago but dismissed current suggestions he's still a contender as speculation. John Skipper, ESPN's exec VP who's also been associated with the search, said late last week he was "not having any discussions" with G&J. A decision is expected this month. Mr. Ganz and a G&J spokeswoman declined to comment. Mr. Steward did not return calls. See QwikFIND: aap63f

GM picks McCann-Erickson to launch Chevy in China

[Shanghai] General Motors Corp. will name Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson to launch Chevrolet later this year in China after a hotly-contested pitch against sibling Foote Cone & Belding, WPP Group's Bates Asia and local agency Bo Pei. GM's China joint-venture, Shanghai GM, has a 10% market share, but Chevrolet will be GM's main mass market brand in the world's fastest-growing car market. See QwikFIND aap63a

Reality Central inks deal with William Morris

[Santa Monica, Calif.] Reality Central, the network launching late this year that will be fueled by unscripted programming, has made a multiyear pact with the William Morris talent agency's marketing group to integrate advertisers across its budding brand. The deal aims to create sponsorships for Reality Central's cable network, its broadband, Web, video-on-demand and wireless content. The agreement will mean that advertisers can play a role in creating programming and in embedding brand messages throughout the channel's various media plays. As part of the deal, Jim Wiatt, president-CEO of the talent agency, will become an advisory board member

Mercedes hands Smart work to Kirshenbaum

[Montvale, N.J.] Mercedes-Benz USA has tapped MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, to handle a brand positioning project for its Smart car, slated to launch in the U.S. in 2006, according to executives familiar with the matter. The move follows a review in which Kirshenbaum beat out Omnicom's GSD&M, Austin, and independent Creature, Seattle. Billings were not disclosed. Agency representatives did not comment. David Schembri, VP, Mercedes-Benz USA, declined to comment but did say that the company has hired agencies for various projects and brand positioning is one of three key areas Smart is focused on; the other two are product definition and establishing a retail network of dealers.

Y&R opens Seattle office to handle Microsoft biz

[Seattle] WPP's Young & Rubicam Brands is opening a Seattle office to handle its newly won Microsoft customer relationship management account, executives familiar with the situation said. Microsoft in February split duties on its estimated $400 million CRM account between Y&R and Interpublic's MRM Partners, part of McCann-Erickson, which handles creative. The Seattle office, to be headed by Jan Valentic, the global client leader, will have about 20 staffers, the executives said.

Converse account lands at Butler, Shine, Stern

[North Andover, Mass.] Nike's Converse brand has awarded its $4 million account to Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, Sausalito, Calif., executives familiar with the situation said. Others competing in the review included MDC Partners' Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, and independent Mother, New York. Nike bought Converse in September 2003 in an acquisition that gave the Nike brand a far extended presence in mass merchandise retail outlets. Converse had $5.4 million in measured spending last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Omnicom dropped from global Samsung review

[New York] Omnicom Group is no longer in the review for Samsung's global account worth up to $700 million, according to executives familiar with the competition (See World, P. 22). They said it is shaping up as a confrontation pitting WPP Group Chief Executive Martin Sorrell and WPP against Publicis Groupe and its Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy, with incumbent Interpublic having a lesser chance of hanging onto the business. Omnicom did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

FYI ...

Kia Motors America today starts breaking 17 new TV spots via its 38 regional dealer ad groups, which spend some $100 million annually. Independent David and Goliath, Los Angeles, created the work. ... Veteran marketing executive Diane Forese has been named VP-consumer marketing for online auction site eBay, San Jose, Calif., a company spokeswoman said. Ms. Forese replaces Gary Briggs, who held the same position and last month moved to VP-country manager for eBay Canada overseeing sales and marketing. ... As part of its brand-freshening campaign, Yahoo! has started an online contest, at, for real people to compete for a chance to star in its ongoing TV and Web spots touting Yahoo! as their "Life Engine." Agency of record, WPP's Soho Square, New York, handles the ad campaign.

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