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[paris] Havas Advertising reported consolidated billings of $1.7 billion for the first quarter, up 27% from a year ago. The agency giant said new-business gains in the period included work from Telefonica, Microsoft Corp. and Glaxo. First-quarter billings growth is in line with Havas' forecast of 30% or more growth for billings for full-year 1999. Havas operates the Euro RSCG Worldwide and Campus agency networks. Separately, Euro RSCG Worldwide, New York, acquired a majority stake in Munich-based healthcare agency Pharma Performance. The agency will be renamed Pharma Performance Euro RSCG and will become part of Euro RSCG's global healthcare group.

BBC World taps Y&R's Media Edge globally

[london] BBC World appointed the Media Edge to handle media planning and buying globally. This is the Young & Rubicam-owned media operation's first multinational win since launching in Europe at the beginning of March. Creative is held by Carlson and the Works Consultancy and new-media specialists U.S. Web. The 8-year-old BBC World channel now claims to be available in 65 million homes across 187 countries. The Media Edge specifically will target business decisionmakers, consumers in Hong Kong and Singapore (where the channel has a large domestic audience), and the ad community.

O&M to handle Chinese introduction of Xenical

[beijing] Roche Pharmaceuticals named Ogilvy & Mather agency of record for the launch of Xenical in mainland China. The assignment includes advertising, interactive media, public relations and relationship marketing. The weight-loss product won't be available in China until January 2001, but a major clinical trial and PR campaign is planned for the next year and a half to lay the foundation for the brand's launch. Xenical is now available in 19 countries.

Teran TBWA dons Levi's account in Mexico

[mexico city] Teran TBWA won Levi Strauss & Co.'s Mexican account. Sibling agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, Playa del Rey, Calif., is one of Levi Strauss' U.S shops, but Teran TBWA won the Mexican account in a local competition. Alazraki & Asociados previously handled. The win means Teran will have to drop the Furor jeans account. Teran TBWA also announced that sister agency Radar picked up the ad business for Volvo, which has been absent from the Mexican market for years. In addition, Radar will handle CibaVision contact lens products on a panregional basis, focusing on Argentina, Brazil and Mexico.

Burnett-local venture wins Vietnam beer acc't

[hanoi] Vietnam's first and only partnership between a foreign and a domestic ad agency won its first headline-making account. Leo Burnett/M&T snared the contract to advertise Tiger beer, the top-selling bottled and canned beer in Vietnam. Matthew Crawford, managing director for Leo Burnett (Vietnam), which teamed with state-owned M&T under a pilot business cooperation contract, said: "This highlights the success of our BCC project, the first ever in Vietnam" in advertising. M&T Director Ngo Thanh Loan said most of the brand's advertising will now be created domestically. Under the previous arrangement with Saatchi & Saatchi, most work was formulated abroad. Under the BCC, Chicago-based Leo Burnett Co. is the only foreign ad agency allowed to work in Vietnam without the use of intermediaries. Vietnam Breweries Marketing Manager Andrew White cited the "depth of talent" in Leo Burnett/M&T and the partnership's "fresh marketing strategy" as the main reasons for awarding the Tiger account.

Russian TV station scraps ads on 'Liberation Day'

[moscow] Russian TV channel ORT, though strapped for cash, refused to broadcast advertising May 9 in an effort not to "harm feelings of Second World War veterans and elderly people," said General Producer Konstantin Ernst. May 9 is observed by some citizens in Russia and countries of the former Soviet Union as Liberation Day. "We understand it perfectly well that veterans and old people may find commercials arrogant and not suitable at that day," Mr. Ernst said. This is the second year ORT has dropped ads on May 9, but the decision is more difficult this year due to the country's financial crisis. ORT's debt stood at $95 million at the beginning of 1999. At a recent news conference, company officials estimated that ORT will capture $40 million to $60 million of the country's $120 million in TV advertising this year.

Mandela OKs tough anti-cig bill in S. Africa

[johannesburg] South African President Nelson Mandela ratified what has been described here as "the world's toughest antismoking legislation." But the legislation hasn't yet taken effect, and a faint hope remained that it would be softened. The Freedom of Commercial Speech Trust said Minister of Health Nkosozana Zuma would step back from a total ban on tobacco advertising "if it could be proved that advertising will not target or influence children to start smoking." The Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act empowers the Minister of Health to enforce a total ban on advertising and promotion of tobacco products and to outlaw smoking in public places, but a date for the restrictions to take effect hasn't been determined yet.

Half-dozen shops vie for German digital TV acc't

[munich] Six agencies will compete for Kirch Group's $60 million assignment to convince Germans to sign up for its new digital TV station. The as yet unnamed station was created from the merger of digital station DF 1 and Premiere, a pay-TV channel Kirch bought from Bertelsmann's UFA. Battling for the account are Michael Conrad & Leo Burnett, Frankfurt; DDB, Duesseldorf; DDB-owned Heye & Partner, Munich; Grey, Duesseldorf; KNSK BBDO, Hamburg, which handled Premiere; and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Frankfurt. Incumbent on the DF 1 account, For Sale, isn't included in the pitch.

P&G poised for European intro of detergent tablets

[newcastle upon tyne, u.k.] Procter & Gamble Co. will roll out its laundry tablet detergent in the U.K. at the end of this month, as the product heads across Europe. The introduction will come more than a month later than scheduled and with a new brand name. Ariel Tablets, previously called Ariel Discs, will be marketed as more convenient than liquids or powders. The product has been in test in two English towns since April 1998. The introduction will get a $30 million marketing campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi, London. P&G attributed the delayed launch to reaction from the supermarket trade, which suggested demand would outstrip supply. The marketer wouldn't disclose details of Ariel Tablets' European rollout.

Mexico's Grupo Gigante opens stores in Calif.

[mexico city] Mexican retailer Grupo Gigante opened its first store north of the border and plans to unveil two more supermarkets in southern California this year. Gigante is one of Mexico's leading grocery store chains. While the average Gigante grocery store in Mexico carries appliances and clothing in addition to fresh foods and other grocery items, the California stores will be conventional supermarkets, said Justo Frias, director of the chain's Baja California division, which is overseeing the California expansion. The first store opened on May 5 in Pico Rivera, a predominantly Hispanic suburb of Los Angeles. Mr. Frias noted Los Angeles' population is 52% Latino, of which 85% is Mexican or Mexican-American. Gigante has good name recognition among this group. Given the emphasis on pricing, Gigante's initial U.S. advertising efforts will be focused

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