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NYC agency VPs soon will find work less taxing-if there are any VPs left. Gov. George Pataki is expected to sign a law allowing the city to phase out a tax that links NYC employers' tax bills to the number of VPs. Ad agencies have dodged the tax by dumping the VP title in favor of designations like partner or associate. A BBDO memo this spring termed the law "so severe that we have no choice" but to drop VP title and save "millions." By 1999, VPs will again be tax-free, surely leading to a title wave of Big Apple veeps. Four A's prez Burtch Drake hailed the demise of "this unfair and antiquated tax."

Newsweek Publisher Harold Shain and top editors jetted to Detroit for a presentation about the presidential elections to the Big 3 and their agencies. Ford and Chrysler went as planned. But the GM party was scrubbed 'cuz its new entertainment policy bans such employee freebies. "We understand GM's position, so it was prudent to cancel it," says Terry Brady, sales director in Detroit.

Bill Hagelstein is joining Rubin Postaer & Associates in Santa Monica to run the Honda account and lead the pitch for Acura. Hagelstein, 47, worked at RPA in the '80s and till last summer managed Mazda shop FCB. Prez Gerry Rubin, 56, says this is the first step in the agency's succession plan. But Rubin says he and partner Larry Postaer, 57, have no plans to retire-or sell. Meanwhile, Ketchum/LA, vying to keep Acura, is expected to get a new name in the next few weeks under the management of new creative duo Larry Kopald and Marcus Kemp and account veteran Tim Hart. Word is prez Craig Mathiesen has "virtually left" the shop.

The U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority admonished Nissan for "offensive" sexual innuendo and nudity in two posters for a sport-utility vehicle. One ad in the TBWA campaign, headlined "4x4 play," showed the truck driving over the curvy terrain of a woman's body, with a breast exposed. A Nissan spokeswoman says the marketer was "very surprised...We didn't realize that the campaign would cause offense to anyone."

For 14 years, SF's Goldberg Moser O'Neill produced combative ads for UC Berkeley's alumni fund-raising account, pitting Cal against Stanford. One Stanford grad so liked the ads he sent Cal a $5,000 check. Stanford also liked the work: It's hired GMO for its national fund-raising campaign. ...The dumpster outside Saatchi's SF office recently was overfilled with materials related to Hewlett-Packard, which has moved a lot of business to other shops. Why the housecleaning? "A cleansing of the evil spirits," speculates an exec at a nearby agency....George's JFK Jr., who interviews National Enquirer's Iain Calder in the new issue, sent an advance copy to Calder. "Thanks, John," he wrote back, "but since we're the National Enquirer, we've had a copy for two weeks."

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Bill Britt, Alice Z. Cuneo, Mark Gleason, Jean Halliday and Keith J. Kelly.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (213) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (213) 655-8157; or e-mail, [email protected]

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