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The softer side of glamorous French male model Patrick Lau is taking him on the road to stardom after appearing in the buff in Procter & Gamble's fabric softener ads in Germany. The spot, showing him plunging into the ocean and emerging to don a comfy Lenor-softened bathrobe, has rival German talk show hosts vying to feature him as a guest. P&G execs in Cincinnati, however, appeared to be the last to learn the naked truth: Word is that they had no idea of the German nudity until they read it in these pages.

Secret weapon: The Japanese may be developing their own Bill Gates. Masayoshi Son, 37, already is the largest distributor of computer software and peripherals and largest publisher of related magazines and books through his $2 billion Softbank cor-

poration. The Japanese press says that the rags-to-riches electronics whiz, "like Gates, is almost never satisfied."

Young & Rubicam London's Managing Director Toby Hoare's dream is to hold the agency's Christmas bash on the London-Paris-London route of Eurostar, the much-delayed new Channel Tunnel train service. Eurostar also happens to be, not surprisingly, his account.

Isn't this the stork's job? As if it's not bad enough sitting next to hyperactive toddlers, those on South African Airlines may have to deliver babies, too. In the airline's new international spot emphasizing customer care by Sonnenberg, Murphy, Leo Burnett, an attendant helps a passenger who gives birth in-flight, a dramatization of a real event.

A hub hubbub: Singapore's Minister of Information & the Arts George Yeo says he wants Singapore to become a media center, but the official told a media conference this month that he wouldn't let Cosmopolitan start a local edition "because they are advocating or celebrating fringe lifestyles." The real story: he was appalled to find his wife reading an issue of Cosmo a couple years ago that included an article on how to be unfaithful to your husband.

Filming an Israeli spot in Jordan with the theme "A sweet moment of peace" before the two countries signed their peace treaty Oct. 26 was a major challenge for Ayelet Gonen, head of production at Elite, marketer of Pesek Zman candy bars. Jordanian production company Prime TV smuggled the Israelis into Petra to film a man on a camel distributing the chocolate to robed Bedouin children.

Move over Rudolph: You thought Santa used a sleigh but he really flies British Airways. Mike Batt, BA's head of marketing, and Bob Ayling, BA group managing director, are urging kids to paint a plane for Christmas. Artists under the age of 14 have until Nov. 28 to submit an original picture, and the winning design will be painted on a plane that will fly international routes.

London-based European Editor Laurel Wentz welcomes contributions for GlobalVillage. Correspondents contributing to this column: Dagmar Mussey, Dusseldorf; Margo Lipschitz Sugarman, Jerusalem; Ivy Silverman, Tokyo; and Bill Britt, London.

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