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Nestle USA and Pillsbury's Haagen-Dazs are combining clout in a new joint venture, Ice Cream Partners USA, that brings together novelty and hard-pack ice cream brands in a licensing agreement. The 50-50 joint venture will be based in northern California and will be oveseen by James Dintaman, president-CEO of Nestle USA's ice cream division, who becomes CEO of Ice Cream Partners. Nestle's shop for its frozen novelty brand, Drumstick, is Publicis, Dallas, but Nestle works with many shops, including J. Walter Thompson Co. and McCann-Erickson Worldwide, the latter of which handles its joint cereal venture with General Mills in Europe. Haagen-Dazs' agency is Partners & Shevack/Wolf, New York.

Sears retools tagline to 'good life' theme

Sears, Roebuck & Co. this fall shifts marketing gears to emphasize its low prices and product guarantees. The new tagline, "The good life at a great price. Guaranteed," was developed jointly by agencies Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, and Y&R Advertising, New York and Chicago, along with three key Sears marketing executives. Mark A. Cohen, exec VP-marketing, said the retailer will use the tagline on all its TV, print, radio, outdoor and bus ads promoting products ranging from its private label brands, as well as in new work in the Northeast for Sears' new Benetton USA line from Y&R. Spending on the new campaign was undisclosed, but will remain in the range of last year's advertising expenditures of $1.67 billion.

WPP buys healthcare consultancy Shire Hall

WPP Group, London, acquired Shire Hall Group, the largest independent healthcare communications consultancy in the U.K. Shire Hall will retain its brand identity and management structure and will join WPP's Branding & Identity, Healthcare and Specialist Communications division.

VNU strikes $2.7 bil deal for Nielsen Media Research

Publishing and information services conglomerate VNU agreed to purchase Nielsen Media Research, New York, the top provider of TV audience research in the U.S. and Canada. VNU, based in Haarlem, the Netherlands, said its wholly owned VNU USA unit will buy all of Nielsen's common stock for $2.7 billion. The deal places the two leading databases on competitive advertising expenditures -- VNU's Competitive Media Reporting and Nielsen Media Research's Monitor-Plus -- under one ownership. The fate of Monitor-Plus is still not determined. It also sets the stage for Nielsen Media Research to compete directly with ACNielsen Corp. in TV measurement outside North America; the companies became separate in November 1996.

Callahan to lead

Campbell's beverage biz

Tim Callahan, VP-global business development at Campbell Soup Co., has been boosted to head Campbell's global beverage business, succeeding Sally Robling, VP-global beverages, who is believed to be taking a leave from the company. The move means the company is without a high-level executive overseeing advertising services, which reported to Mr. Callahan.

Insurance group's ads fight 'patients' rights bill

Health Insurance Association of America today breaks a two-week $1 million spot radio blitz to tally opposition to federal "patients' bill of rights" legislation in Washington. A spot for the campaign, from Goddard Classen Porter Novelli, Washington, suggests Republican legislators may have forgotten why they were elected if they are siding with Democrats on patients' rights.

Campbell-Ewald opts out of casino account

Citing "onerous" state licensing requirements, Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich., resigned as agency for MotorCity Casino, to open this fall in Detroit. A MotorCity spokesman said the casino will now use "a local firm and a Las Vegas firm" that he declined to identify. Campbell-Ewald won the account earlier this year. It said Michigan casino law would have required that "several hundred of our employees would have to fill out a very extensive questionnaire about the personal aspects of their lives" or be terminated.

Miramax options rights to 'Talk' article

Miramax Films optioned the rights to an article that appeared in the premiere issue of Talk. "The last safari" is a first-person account of tourists on safari in Uganda taken hostage by Hutu rebels. The article chronicles the kidnapping and killing of eight of the 16 hostages. Talk Media, the joint venture among Hearst Magazines, Miramax Films and Editor Tina Brown, was established under the premise of using the magazine to launch TV, movie and book deals.

Pac-10 adopts Pop Secret as its official popcorn

General Mills and Pac-10 Properties said Pop Secret popcorn will be the "official microwave popcorn" of the Pacific-10 athletic conference under a new agreement. General Mills said it would use the deal to promote a new extension

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