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Newspapers claim 700,000-reader gain

Newspapers gained 700,000 new readers in the top 50 markets from 1996 to 1997, while radio audiences remained virtually unchanged, according to a new study from Newspaper Association of America. The study contended daily newspapers reached more adults in 1997 than any other segment studied, an average of 58.7%, compared with 42.4% for prime-time TV, 25.4% for morning drive radio stations and 10.4% for prime-time cable. It said prime-time TV viewership fell by 3%, and cable fell by 0.6% from 1996 to 1997.

Merrill Lynch review down to 3 shops

Merrill Lynch & Co. narrowed its $70 million review to D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Lowe Group and J. Walter Thompson USA, all New York, said executives close to the review. Incumbent Bozell Worldwide, New York, is not participating. Foote, Cone & Belding and Grey Advertising, contenders in the $40 million Chase Manhattan Corp. review, were eliminated.

Coke assignment goes to Kirshenbaum shop

Coca-Cola Co. has given a special assignment for Coca-Cola Classic to Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners, New York, the agency's first Coca-Cola assignment. A Coca-Cola spokesman said the assignment does not signal major changes in the company's roster of agencies. "It's a continuation of our long-standing strategy to tap into the best creative resources around the world." Separately, new creative from Edge Creative, Los Angeles, with the "Always Coca-Cola" theme, is in production. Some observers have said the campaign may be scrapped.

Delta marketing chief stepping down

Delta Air Lines said Exec VP-Marketing Robert W. Coggin will retire from the company May 1. Mr. Coggin, 61, a 42-year Delta veteran, will provide consulting aid to Delta on global alliances. Delta said it will immediately begin a search outside the company for Mr. Coggin's successor. It said sales and marketing duties will be split for the interim among Senior VP-Sales and International Vince Caminiti, Senior VP-Corporate Planning and Information Technology Paul G. Matsen and VP-Market Development Mark Drusch.

Interpublic buying event planner Morton

Interpublic Group of Cos., New York, agreed to acquire event staging company Jack Morton Co. The 58-year-old company will remain independent, operating under Interpublic's Allied Communications Group. William Morton will remain as chairman-CEO. Price was estimated at about $50 million in stock.

Lee Jeans in Europe lands at Fallon

VF Corp. awarded the $20 million pan-European creative assignment for its Lee jeans to Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, which said it will open a full-service office in London to service the account. Incumbent was Grey Advertising, London.

Omnicom prepares for TBWA future

Omnicom Group, New York, plans on using the bulk of its recently acquired GGT Group assets, including its BDDP Worldwide operations, to strengthen TBWA International's worldwide presence, according to executives familiar with the plans. BDDP is slated to be merged under the TBWA umbrella. Current plans call for GGT Group CEO Michael Greenless, 51, to replace TBWA International Chairman-CEO Bill Tragos, 63, in two to three years, when Mr. Tragos would retire.

PSAs up sharply in '97 on broadcast TV

TV broadcasters that faced criticism from former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Reed Hundt for not running enough public service ads responded last year by increasing by 42% the time value of ads they ran, according to the Advertising Council. Last year, the council said public service ads showed a 7% increase overall to $996.2 million. In other media, the Ad Council said, the value of PSA radio time rose 6%; outdoor space dropped 22%; cable TV dipped 6%; consumer magazines down 26%; and business press off 55%.

K-C hikes prices, adds baby wipes

Kimberly-Clark Corp. said it will increase prices July 1 for Huggies diapers, Pull-Ups training pants and Goodnites underpants 5%. K-C also will roll out superpremium Huggies Supreme Care baby wipes on July 1.

Trade mag ad outlay to pass $8 billion

American Business Press predicted 1997 ad expenditures in trade magazines will exceed $8 billion in 1997, up from $7.2 billion the previous year, an increase of 11% or more. Data put ad expenditures in trade magazines for the first nine months of last year at $5.92 billion, up 12.4% from 1996.

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