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[london] Financial services group HSBC Holdings appointed Zenith Media Worldwide as its lead media agency internationally. Zenith will coordinate media campaigns for HSBC and its group companies across the 79 countries and territories where it operates. HSBC previously worked with Zenith in Asia. Zenith Chairman-Chief Executive John Perriss said his agency will develop a media strategy for a global campaign. HSBC earlier named Lowe & Partners Worldwide its lead international agency. Lowe will be responsible for creating a global campaign to build the HSBC brand. Both assignments are new. HSBC has more than 5,000 offices, with assets exceeding $483 billion.

Audi goes outside agency network to use Wieden

[ingolstadt, germany] Audi has given Wieden & Kennedy, Amsterdam, an ad assignment, said an official in the upscale carmaker's marketing department here. The official declined to comment on whether the assignment is European or global, product or image and what media will be used. It's believed Wieden declined to do product advertising and will work on an image campaign. The assignment is significant in that Audi looked outside its network of creative local agencies. Officials with Wieden's Amsterdam office didn't return calls at press time.

Tomy helps Furby learn new language: Japanese

[tokyo] A Japanese-speaking Furby will hit stores in Japan by the end of May, said Tomy Co., which will market the electronic toy. Furby, the hottest toy of the past Christmas season in the U.S., will carry a price tag of $33 in Japan, and Tomy expects to sell 1 million of them by March 2000. It marks the first time that Furby purrs words in a tongue other than English, a Tomy spokeswoman said. "An English-speaking Furby would do very well with sales in Japan, especially among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s," she said. "The Japanese version will be greatly appreciated by children." Tomy acquired exclusive rights to market Furby in Japan from Tiger Electronics and its parent, Hasbro. The news of "Nihongo" Furby came days before Tomy was to make its debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

'Nyet' to Dunkin' Donuts, 'Da' to Baskin-Robbins

[moscow] Allied Domecq Retail will halt development of the Dunkin' Donuts brand in Russia and concentrate on ice cream as its core business here. "Because of the inability to provide Russian entrepreneurs with a reasonable profit margin, the decision has been taken not to give Dunkin' Donuts shops to franchisees in Moscow," the company said in a statement. An executive who asked not to be named said four company-owned shops already have closed in Russia, and Allied Domecq plans to sell or shut company-managed shops that account for about 10% of the 80 existing Dunkin' Donuts outlets in Russia. The company instead will concentrate on developing Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlors.

Coors sponsors Irish debut of 'South Park'

[dublin] Coors Brewing Co. signed an agreement with TV3 to sponsor the debut of "South Park" on the Irish commercial channel, controlled by Canadian broadcaster CanWest. The sponsorship will run in parallel with TV3's ad campaign for the series. DDFH&B created the TV and poster effort. The beer deal is part of a $3.6 million positioning of Coors Light in Ireland. Heineken-owned Murphy's Brewery holds the Irish rights to Coors Light. The cost of the "South Park" push will be funded jointly by Murphy's and Coors.

TGI Friday's restaurants invade Nordic region

[stockholm] TGI Friday's has entered Scandinavia via its first outlet in Stockholm. Norwegian grocery chain Narvesen holds the Nordic franchise. Plans call for two more outlets in Sweden, plus entering Denmark, Finland and Norway, all by yearend.

MasterCard, Pele team up again for 2002 World Cup

[rio de janeiro] MasterCard International signed soccer great Pele for a third run as its official spokesman during the World Cup, to be played next in 2002. Pele has maintained a contract for the past eight years with MasterCard, the official card brand of the worldwide soccer championship.

Passemore-McLaughlin tapped at Revlon Canada

[toronto] Cynthia Passemore-McLaughlin was named general manager of Revlon Canada. She succeeds Joe Porcelli, former regional president-Western Hemisphere and travel retail, who left the company late last year. Mr. Porcelli had only been in the job for one year and succeeded Rochelle Stenzler, who resigned in December 1997 after just four months in the post. Ms. Passemore-McLaughlin joined Revlon in 1993 and was most recently regional VP-marketing for Europe and the Middle East. She has had 14 years' experience in marketing and brand management in positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s Clairol division and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Cover Girl Cosmetics division.

Sony service to offer music by satellite

[tokyo] Sony is preparing to launch a satellite-based music content distribution business. The effort will be driven by Sony Music Entertainment in conjunction with Sky PerfecTV. The Sony music content will be distributed via the satellite network of Sky PerfecTV, in which Sony is a leading shareholder. The goal of the new business is to allow subscribers to download and record digital-quality music files at prices that undercut CDs. Sony subsidiary Digital Media Entertainment will be responsible for the actual content distribution. The group

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