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McKinney for sale, MarchFirst weighs options

McKinney & Silver, the Raleigh, N.C.-based agency owned by troubled MarchFirst, is up for sale, said an executive close to the situation. MarchFirst, the floundering Web professional services company, is looking to cut costs by finding a buyer for the agency, and McKinney is conducting its own search for a new parent, said the executive.

MarchFirst denied a sale is imminent. "There is no such transaction at the moment," said Ken Kinsella, VP in charge of strategic expansion. However, he didn't rule out a sale in the future.

"We're going to line up every single part of our business in the next six months and look at what is and is not strategic to MarchFirst," Mr. Kinsella said. "Divestiture of assets is something that we're considering in our workout plan."

McKinney President-CEO Don Maurer declined to comment. McKinney had 1999 gross income of $22.5 million and came in 94th on Advertising Age's agency rankings. Major clients include Volkswagen's Audi of America, expected to spend $150 million next year, and XO Communications, expected to spend $50 million next year.

Separately at McKinney, Andrew Delbridge, 40, was named senior VP-executive director of account planning, from CEO of Publicis Communication New Zealand.

CBS rejects PETA ad planned for Super Bowl

CBS turned down People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals from buying ad time in next January's Super Bowl, the animal rights group said. PETA officials said CBS told them it didn't take "advocacy ads." PETA representative Lisa Lange countered that CBS does air ads produced for or by other non-profit organizations such as the American Cancer Society. The commercial was to have featured "singing cows"-real cows intoning, via computer animation: "Our sweet backsides would like to stay together. We don't want to be your leather." PETA said it planned to pay $2.5 million for the 30-second commercial. CBS executives didn't return phone calls by press time.

Ziff Davis names Millard head of Internet subsidiary

Ziff Davis Media named Wenda Millard as president of its Ziff Davis Internet subsidiary. Ms. Millard, 46, will start at the company today, and serve on the company's board of directors. Ms. Millard, formerly executive VP of Internet ad giant DoubleClick-which she helped found in 1996-will report directly to Ziff Davis Chairman, President and CEO Jim Dunning. Ms. Millard worked with Mr. Dunning at marketing information company SRDS, where she served as president and group publisher. Ziff Davis plans substantial ramp-up for Internet activities in 2001, including three major but unnamed initiatives. Internet rights for Ziff Davis magazines are owned by CNET Networks through its July purchase of ZDNet, but Ziff Davis has informed CNET and ZDNet that it believes the contracts governing those rights are no longer valid.

Kmart names Willis

chief marketing officer

Kmart Corp. named Coca-Cola Co. international marketing veteran Brent Willis, 40, as its first-ever chief marketing officer. Mr. Willis had been president of Coca-Cola's Latin American Venecol Division since 1997. Previously, he was president of Coca-Cola Latin America's Mexico division. At Kmart, Mr. Willis will be responsible for managing all marketing, communications, advertising and brand development, reporting to President-Chief Operating Officer Andy Giancamilli. The move is the latest under new Kmart Chairman-CEO Chuck Conaway, who has been charged with revitalizing the discount chain.

Postal-rate increase approved, to start Jan. 7

The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors voted to raise postal rates Jan. 7, largely as approved last month by the Postal Rate Commission. Postal officials said they would work with mailers to assure that the tight 30-day notice of the rate change won't affect mail.

The Board of Governors rejected four small recommendations of the rate commission, including one that would have created a special rate for stamps printed from special computer programs. The increases would raise rates for most magazines 9.9% with a lesser 7.2% for nonprofit titles. Direct marketers get hit with an 8.8% increase for standard mail, with rates for catalogs rising from 4.6% to 9.1%.

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