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Jones will step down

from CEO post at JWT

J. Walter Thompson Co. CEO Chris Jones is leaving the agency due to health concerns, according to an executive close to the situation. Mr. Jones, CEO since 1996, has had difficulties with blood clots, though at deadline the exact nature of his health situation was unknown. Peter Schweitzer, president of WPP Group-owned J. Walter Thompson, is expected to succeed Mr. Jones, though Mr. Schweitzer will remain in Detroit. Mr. Jones has been based in New York.

Campbell Mithun wins kids advertising for BK

Burger King Corp. named Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, as its U.S. kids advertising agency of record for the U.S., putting Interpublic one step closer to a sweep of the business (AA, Jan. 15).Earlier this month, the Diageo-owned fast feeder awarded Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, its U.S. general market adult advertising business.

Campbell Mithun beat finalists Grey Worldwide and incumbent Lowe Lintas & Partners, both New York, for the account, estimated between $70 million and $100 million. Burger King's total U.S. marketing budget is estimated at $400 million.

Campbell Mithun has extensive kids' advertising experience, including work for General Mills cereals, Hostess, Minute Maid and Kmart Kids.

While details of the campaign were not disclosed, new creative is expected to break in June. Unlike the general market adult review, creative for the kids review was done using storyboards, said Richard Taylor, VP-marketing in the U.S. for Burger King.

Perhaps further hinting at the strategy, Mr. Taylor noted that taste is a major focus for Big Kids Meals. "They like that [the burger] is flamebroiled and can have it their way," he said. "There is a component of empowerment at Burger King."

The company didn't announce its promotional account winner as was expected.

Michael J. Fox signs on

as Gateway spokesman

Gateway broke the latest phase of its "People Rule" ad campaign Jan. 19 with actor Michael J. Fox as its new spokesman. The campaign constitutes more than one-third of the computer maker's annualized ad budget and is its most significant marketing push this year. Created by McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, three spots were shot on Jan. 12 and several more are planned.

CBS says just one spot

is open for Super Bowl

Viacom's CBS late last week said it was just one spot short of selling out its :30 spots for Super Bowl XXXV, having sold 59 of 60 open slots. See's chart for the latest list of Super Bowl advertisers.

Nestle pays $10.3 billion

to acquire Ralston Purina

Nestle last week agreed to acquire Ralston Purina Co. for roughly $10.3 billion. Nestle and Ralston plan by year's end to combine their respective pet care businesses into a new entity, Nestle Purina Pet Care, which will have sales of approximately $6.3 billion. The new unit will be based in St. Louis and headed by W. Patrick McGinnis, current president-CEO of Ralston Purina.

While executives from the two companies said the merger would not prompt an agency review, it is likely that Interpublic Group of Cos. stands to gain from the transaction. Currently, Interpublic agencies McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Los Angeles and Dailey & Associates, West Hollywood, Calif., account for the lion's share of Nestle's businesses. Nestle spent $52 million in measured media on those dog and cat food brands in 1999, per Competitive Media Reporting. Ralston, for its part, currently uses Interpublic's Lowe Lintas & Partners, Minneapolis, for its Purina O.N.E specialty pet food brand, on which it spent roughly $30 million in measured media in 1999, per CMR. Publicis Groupe's Fallon Worldwide, Avrett, Free & Ginsburg, New York, and an internal agency, CheckMark Communications, are among the other agencies that Ralston uses for its additional pet care brands, on which it spent $94 million in 1999.

Hallmark ornament acc't goes to McCann agency

McCann Relationship Marketing, New York, bested two other agencies for Hallmark Cards' multimillion-dollar Keepsake Ornaments account. Hallmark is consolidating all ad duties for its ornament division, which previously was handled by several smaller shops on a project basis, with Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned McCann-Erickson Worldwide's marketing services agency in an aim to reposition the brand in 2001. Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, remains Hallmark's lead agency across all other business units.

Dot-com slowdown sparks another round of layoffs

GMO/Hill Holliday, San Francisco, is cutting its staff by one-third, or about 50 jobs, via layoffs and attrition. A Hill Holliday spokesman would not confirm the number but said the cuts stem from an economic slowdown and softness in the dot-com sector.

CNN, a unit of the new AOL Time Warner, said it is laying off 400 employees, or about 10% of its work force, with about one-third of those cuts affecting CNN's online operations.

NBC Internet (NBCi) is laying off 150 people, or approximately 30% of its work force, saying the cost reduction initiatives are aimed at "allowing the company to attain profitability amid a slowing online advertising market."

CMGI-controlled Internet search-engine company AltaVista Co. laid off 200 employees, or about 25% of its staff.

Unilever moves $150 mil

to WPP Group's MindShare

Unilever, India's biggest advertiser, is moving more than $150 million in media billings for India and three Central Asian countries to WPP Group-owned MindShare, which is expected to open an office in Bombay this month. Previously, the business was split among WPP networks J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe Lintas & Partners in Bangladesh. In a six-month review, Interpublic's Initiative Media pitched against MindShare.

Continuing its shift from agencies to media specialists, Unilever in Thailand consolidated its $40 million media planning and buying account at Initiative Media. Initiative pitched against Interpublic sibling Universal McCann as well as MindShare, Omnicom Group's OMD and Tempus Group's CIA Media Innovation. Previously, the business was divided among JWT, O&M, Interpublic's McCann-Erickson Worldwide and Omnicom's BBDO Worldwide.

Separately, MindShare, Tokyo, picked up Unilever's $35 million media assignment for Dove soap in Japan from Carat SPI and a $45 million media account from financial group Zurich to handle Zurich Direct and Zurich Life. The Zurich win is MindShare's first Japanese assignment that did not come from an account handled by a WPP agency.

Toyota pulls account

from Saatchi in Brazil

Toyota Motor Co., one of Saatchi & Saatchi's biggest global clients, moved its Brazilian business out of F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Sao Paulo, and will look for a new agency. Reasons given for the move included local agency-client clashes.

Lowe Group combines

two of its divisions

Interpublic Group of Cos. on Jan. 18 combined Long Haymes Carr, Winston-Salem, N.C., into Mullen, Wenham, Mass. Mullen President-CEO Joe Grimaldi will lead the combined agency. Current Mullen shops in Wenham and Detroit will retain the Mullen name, while Long Haymes Carr will be rebranded as Mullen/LHC.

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