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Pepsi-Cola Co. unveiled a frequent-buyer program that will reward consumers with $125 million in free merchandise over the next seven months. "Pepsi Stuff" will be the biggest consumer promotion in the company's history, with 4 million items to be awarded, and is seen as a counterweight against Coca-Cola Co.'s massive involvement in this year's Summer Olympics.

Consumers who buy Pepsi products can collect "Pepsi Points" and redeem them for items such as clothing, duffel bags, sunglasses and mountain bikes. Pepsi will advertise the promotion via TV, radio, print, outdoor, the Pepsi Web site and in stores. BBDO Worldwide, New York, is the agency.

Boston Market chain has assigned four new ad agencies as part of its strategy to create a "virtual" ad agency to service its estimated $30 million account.

Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco, will handle creative for Boston's basic individual, family and kids' meals business; Suissa Miller, Santa Monica, Calif., will handle the Boston Carver sandwich and new menu items, and Team One, El Segundo, Calif., will handle new business such as Hearth Honey Ham. McCann-Erickson, New York, will handle media planning and placement. Four additional agencies will handle various other aspects of the account, ranging from print and collateral production to promotions. J. Walter Thompson USA, New York, resigned the account.

Legendary adman Bill Backer is worried about current creative trends. Speaking during his induction into the American Advertising Federation's Advertising Hall of Fame in New York on March 26, the former worldwide executive creative director at what is now Bates Worldwide said many of today's TV spots are "mean-spirited" and "self-absorbed." While admitting his own reel seems quaintly outdated in 1996, he said he always tried to give the audience "a laugh or a song."

Fellow inductee Howard Bell, AAF president emeritus, bemoaned the fact that "advertising is often maligned by the same public that makes most daily purchasing decisions with the help of advertising. My hope for the future is that....advertising can find a way to generate the same kind of public acceptance for itself that advertising creates for so many products, services and public service causes."

Former Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman-CEO Edwin L. Artzt and Former Capital Cities/ABC Chairman-CEO Thomas Murphy were also inducted.

Ciba Pharmaceuticals said it has begun a nationwide mailing "to better inform medical professionals, parents and patients about the appropriate use of Ritalin, used in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder." The company said increased public attention to the drug, used mostly for children, and word of improper use and abuse of the drug, led to the mailing. Ciba said it has mailed specially-developed educational materials to more than 100,000 pharmacies and medical institutions and some 110,000 physicians.

Citigate Group, London, acquired Albert Frank-Guenther Law International, a New York-based financial advertising and PR firm. Citigate said it bought Albert Frank and PR agency Torrance Group from parent company AFGL International for $4 million in stock. Albert Frank and Citigate's advertising division will be merged and known as Citigate Albert Frank. Citigate has estimated billings of more than $150 million, while Albert Frank and Torrance have an estimated $40 million in billings.

Ameritech Cellular this month plans to launch a $150 wireless Internet product, including a cellular modem, free Internet E-mail, free service for one month and a cable to connect a cell phone to a PC. Advertising by DDB Needham, Chicago, will support. Motorola also plans to soon introduce a wireless phone from which subscribers can access the Internet, get E-mail and retrieve information from the Web. Separately, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association will launch its own Web site in June at

Robert L. Burgess, owner of Atlanta-based Burgess Creative Concepts, filed a $100 million-plus lawsuit in Georgia's Fulton County Superior Court against Coca-Cola Co., claiming it was his idea to use polar bears in Coke commercials. Burgess' plan was first presented to Coca-Cola in late 1988 and early 1989, the suit said. A Coca-Cola spokesman said, "The suit is totally without merit and we plan to defend our position vigorously."

Colgate-Palmolive Co. will introduce next month Softsoap gentle antibacterial body wash with an all-TV campaign and $12 million in annualized spending via Young & Rubicam, New York.

LDDS/WorldCom, the fourth largest provider of long distance, filmed TV spots featuring new spokesman Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls. Earle Palmer Brown, Baltimore, handles the estimated $10 million campaign, scheduled to launch later this spring on national TV and cable. WorldCom's stock has been on the rise since it signed on superspokesman Jordan in a 10-year deal. As part of the deal, Mr. Jordan, an investor of WorldCom, will be paid on a scale directly related to the company's stock performance.

AT&T Solutions made its ad debut last week with a national print campaign in The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes and Chief Executive. The AT&T unit, handled by McCann-Erickson, New York, was formed last February to provide consulting and systems integration for AT&T's top 2,000 corporate customers. Spot TV and national broadcast advertising will follow next month on channels including CNN and other programming targeted to senior-level executives. Billings are undisclosed.

American Express will team with Colorado and Denver tourism officials on a $2 million campaign to pitch summer travel in the state. The public-private effort marks the first time Colorado has advertised to visitors since voters shot down state tourism board funding in 1993. "We've seen a 15% decline in out-of-state visitors, which is one reason American Express stepped up to do this," said Eugene Dilbeck, president of the Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. A 24-page publication touting summer in the Rockies will run in Travel & Leisure and Food & Wine. American Express will send the publication to 300,000 cardholders and hold seminars for travel agents in 12 targeted cities.

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