Ford says it won't buy its way to keeping Taurus the No. 1 automotive seller this year if it means missing profit targets. "Is there a price at which we would not be No. 1 ... ?" asked Ford chief financial officer John Devine. "Absolutely." Honda's Accord has a good shot to take the top slot from Taurus, but boss Tom Elliott says, "We're not going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars chasing the No. 1 vehicle." Toyota's Camry is a long shot for leadership. "It's a nice thing to have, but you don't want to break the bank over it," says Toyota exec George Borst. That's what they say. But if No. 1 is up for grabs, something tells us car sellers will spend what it takes to be in the race.
When it comes to advertising agencies, hotels have a lot of reservations. In the past year, at least half a dozen major chains have changed agencies or put their accounts in review. Holiday Inn, at Young & Rubicam, and ITT Sheraton, at Wells Rich Greene, just went into review. Best Western says it has no plans to switch from Rogge Effler, but it's been contacting some agencies. Since last spring, three other hotel chains have switched-Marriott, to McCann-Erickson; Hyatt, to Cramer-Krasselt; and Westin, to DDB Needham. Industry execs have little explanation for the turnover; burnout may be the most likely cause.
Conde Nast prez Steve Florio says rumors the publisher plans a stock offering are "absolutely, positively not true." ... Mazda U.S. boss George McCabe denies Mazda will review FCB even though new ads haven't reversed slumping sales. "They're doing a good job," he says. ... One mean negotiator? Chicago Bears fullback Raymont Harris, mulling his next career, is talking to Leo Burnett USA about doing a summer internship in the agency's media department. .*.*. Pepsi will send out 69 VW Beetles plastered with Mug root beer designs for a national summer promotion.... IBM boss Lou Gerstner last year scrapped Big Blue's dress code. New Apple boss Gil Amelio wears suit and tie to send the opposite message to his casually attired ranks. "We've got to get serious about running our business," he says.
Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Alice Z. Cuneo, Mark Gleason, Jean Halliday, Keith J. Kelly, Pat Sloan and Debra Aho Williamson.
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