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[london] Initiative Media scooped up the estimated $40 million European media planning and buying account of Energizer Co. The appointment followed a three-way pitch including WPP Group's MindShare and BDM's Starcom Worldwide, said Initiative Media International Communications Director Steve Cleak. Incumbent Zenith Media didn't participate.

HP taps Optimedia for Asian imaging account

[singapore] Optimedia Singapore clinched the Asia-Pacific media business for Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Imaging & Printing Systems. The work includes regional markets Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. Zenith Media also pitched. The incumbent was Maximize, which will continue to handle consumer products. Optimedia is the media arm of French agency network Publicis, which established a Singapore office last year.

Gillette budgets $15 mil for Mach3 intro in Brazil

[sao paulo] Gillette Co. will sink $15 million into its Mach3 launch in Brazil. The razor already is available in 120 countries with global sales of $1.4 billion. A campaign created by BBDO Worldwide in the U.K. and adapted by McCann-Erickson Worldwide here will support the March launch in Brazil.

NHL's Stanley Cup trophy tours Canadian cities

[toronto] The National Hockey League is giving Canadian fans a chance to get close to one of the most cherished trophies in sports as the Stanley Cup visits 36 cities in a tour that started this month and ends in April, leading up to the NHL playoffs. The "Cup Crazy Tour" will give fans the opportunity to get their photos taken with the cup at local hockey arenas, university campuses and community centers. Labatt Breweries' Labatt Blue, sponsor of TV's "Hockey Night in Canada," is involved in helping promote the tour. "Hockey Night" viewers can experience the "Cup Crazy Tour" via eight 2-minute features highlighting the cup's trek across the country.

Oslo slams door on Ikea's plan for low-cost houses

[oslo] The municipality of Oslo rejected a plan by Ikea, the Swedish multinational furniture chain, to roll out a new marketing concept in the capital of Norway. Ikea wanted to build in Oslo the first of a series of so-called "Ikea Live Smart houses" in Norway. The concept involves offering houses fitted with Ikea furniture at prices lower than the market prices. Ikea joined forces with Swedish construction group Skanska to create the Live Smart concept, and it's considered a big success in Sweden. "This plan by Ikea is no more than a marketing gimmick to sell more of its products, and we are not falling for it," said Oslo Municipality Commercial Director Grete Horntvedt.

Singapore ad spending returns to upward path

[singapore] Singapore's ad industry appears to be rebounding. Total ad spending hit $717 million last year, up 2.8% from 1998, after '98 was down 7% from the previous year, according to ACNielsen AdEx. "We are seeing a return in clients' confidence. There is improved optimism compared with a year ago, when everyone was adopting a wait and see attitude," said Optimum Media Direction General Manager Gan Boon Guan. Singapore's thriving "new economy" was a strong factor in overall growth, with a doubling in ad spending by Internet companies, to $25.5 million. Added Lennart Bengtsson, managing director and chief client service officer at ACNielsen Singapore and Malaysia: "Looking ahead to 2000, we can expect the finance, Internet and telecommunications sectors to lead the charge into further recovery."

ACNielsen under fire from German publishers

[hamburg] A number of publishing houses, marketers and agencies are challenging ACNielsen Germany figures on 1999 ad spending in print media. "We have written to them and told them about it. We will not pay the bill until new figures are available," said a marketing manager of a German publishing house. Added Fred Hogrefe, media marketing manager at publishing house Heinrich Bauer: "Nielsen has now agreed to issue new figures without errors by early March. Figures where the error rate is over 5% are out of the question." Nielsen's 200-person research center here responded in a statement: "During 1999, we have set up a new production system. The figures for 1999 are preliminary, and we will investigate them and submit them to our partners." This isn't the first time Nielsen has come under attack in Germany. "Figures are incomplete and arrive too late, but Nielsen has a monopoly position here and takes advantage of it," said Holger Busch, general manager of the Association of Magazine Publishing Houses. "We have been in talks with them and still are. We are also considering setting up our own organization, because we have the feeling the changes required will not happen."

Italian telco links to top search engine

[rome] National phone giant Telecom Italia plans to merge its Internet unit with Italy's largest search engine, operated by Seat-Pagine Gialle, in a move that will boost the country's fledgling Internet sector. The new company will have the largest number of registered users among Italian Internet companies and will be the second-largest player in terms of value. The sector previously has been dominated by start-ups with little name recognition. "Telecom is the first well-established company to participate in the Internet sector in a big way, and by merging [with Seat-Pagine Gialle] they're really jumping in with both feet," said technology analyst Marco Seminario. "This will make some more traditional business players sit up and take notice." Seat-Pagine Gialle, until 1998 best known as a Yellow Pages publisher, operates, Italy's largest search engine.

Carat Asia opens unit specializing in interactive

[hong kong] Carat Asia launched Carat Interactive here under Director Annie Allen, who has spearheaded the group's online development in the region during the past 12 months. Carat Interactive will be a stand-alone profit center and provide clients with specialist online media strategy, planning, buying and tracking services. It already has won more than $600,000 in new business from clients such as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. "The Internet is fast becoming an integral part of the media mix," Ms. Allen said, "and we recognize the importance of channeling a dedicated resource into this area to help clients follow their audience."

Pizza Hut says farewell to Norwegian market

[oslo] Pizza Hut is leaving Norway as a result of fierce local competition that has led to low operating margins. "We are closing down Pizza Hut and will no longer use the name. That said, we will continue to operate the restaurants under a new name and with our own management," said Oivind Hoem, managing director of Hoem Norwegian Restaurants. The Hoem family took over the Norwegian Pizza Hut franchise in 1998, including three restaurants in Oslo.

Restaurant rivals join for Big Family in Korea

[seoul] Family restaurants Marche, Outback Steakhouse, Sizzler, TGI Friday's and Tony Roma's are launching a joint brand called Big Family in South Korea. Visitors to the eateries' shared Web site ( are given $4.50 in "cyber-money" redeemable at any of the five participants. Once the consumer gets to the restaurant, paying the bill with an SK Telecom credit card earns more cyber-points that can be used at the restaurants. "It's kind of like sleeping with the enemy but working together should have a synergy effect," said Lee Chai Woo, an operating partner at Outback. The participating restaurants, which normally compete directly with one another, hope that together they can draw consumers away from other types of eateries.

Sony Web site can't cope with PlayStation demand

[tokyo] Sony Corp. got a taste of the customer anticipation for its new PlayStation 2 videogame console in Japan as a flood of orders shut down the Web site for online sales minutes after it went into operation. PlayStation 2, priced at a lofty $362, goes on sale in Japan on March 4, but Sony started taking advance orders online Feb. 18. The company reported it received 100,000 hits in the first minute the site opened, forcing it to shut down temporarily. Over the weekend of Feb. 19-20, the site's average hit-rate per hour was several hundred thousand, Sony said. Sony Computer Entertainment initially will put 1 million consoles on the market, and the company expects to sell about 250,000 units at its Japanese Web site. The current PlayStation video console has racked up sales of 70 million units and is one of the most profitable products in the entire Sony line.

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