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Virgin Mobile USA narrows $90 mil review to 5 shops

Virgin Mobile USA narrowed the contenders to five in the search for a first agency of record on its $50 million to $90 million account (AA, Oct. 16). The list, pared from 10, now consists of San Francisco shops Black Rocket, Leagas Delaney, Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, Odiorne Wilde Narraway & Partners and TBWA/Chiat/Day. The final selection will be made by mid-November, said Rob Gray, director of marketing for Virgin Mobile USA. The brief calls for agencies to demonstrate brand-building and marketing prowess targeting 18-to-34-year-olds. "We want to take the latent brand awareness of Virgin [in the U.S.] and drive awareness of Virgin wireless," Mr. Gray said. The Virgin brand has 40% aided awareness in the U.S., he said, adding that the challenge is to extend it to the wireless services category. Virgin will partner with wireless handset marketers such as Ericsson, Nokia and others, which will produce the phones, to create Virgin-branded services. The service will launch initially in two to three cities early next year, with a national rollout by the fourth quarter.

Starcom wins $50 mil in McD's French media

McDonald's Corp. awarded Bcom3 Group's Starcom Worldwide, Paris, its estimated $50 million French media buying account. Omnicom Group-owned SEO-Optimum Media Direction previously handled. MediaCom Worldwide, part of Grey Global Group, also pitched. Omnicom-controlled BDDP France handles creative. McDonald's also has relied on Havas Advertising's Euro RSCG Corporate to handle a series of crisis management and brand awareness campaigns over the past year aimed at lowering anti-McDonald's sentiments in France (see related item in International News on Page 28).

McCann, 2 incumbents vie for Olds divisional work

General Motors Corp.'s Oldsmobile Division invited McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, to present strategy for positioning of the division and creative for a divisional ad campaign. Also pitching are Olds incumbents Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, which handles the national and regional account, and E. Morris Communications, which handles the African-American market. All three will present separately for a divisional campaign that will break early in the first quarter. Randall Tallerico, since Oct. 16 Oldsmobile's ad director, said he'll meet with the shops to determine the final presentation dates. He emphasized the Oldsmobile account isn't in review, though the divisional theme will be carried into all future product ads. Oldsmobile dealers have complained to the carmaker about reduced ad spending and Burnett's creative. In 1996, GM assigned a GMC truck ad project to Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York, though McCann's Troy, Mich., office had the national account. GM then handed Ammirati, now called Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide after a merger, the entire GMC account in fall 1997 without a review. An Olds spokesman said GM has used other agencies simply for assignments, citing the late 1998 ad launch for the Cadillac Escalade sport-utility vehicle, handled by non-roster agency Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York.

Wrigley forms health unit; readies Surpass antacid

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. formed Wrigley Healthcare Division to develop products that use chewing gum for delivery of active ingredients that provide functional health benefits. The unit's first product is Surpass antacid chewing gum pellets, which will hit the market in February. DDB Corbett will handle the division's advertising. The agency is a joint venture of DDB Worldwide's Chicago office and healthcare shop Frank J. Corbett Inc.

3Com debuts Audrey Internet appliance

3Com Corp. unveiled Audrey, a household Internet appliance that's part of its new Ergo consumer product line. Audrey handles e-mail and calendar functions, and offers instant access to Web content. Razorfish collaborated with 3Com on Audrey's user interface, design and other aspects of the product's development. 3Com agency of record Lowe Lintas & Partners Worldwide, New York, is expected to break a multimedia campaign for Audrey next month. Spending wasn't disclosed, but 3Com's global account at Lowe Lintas is estimated at more than $100 million.

DMA plans $80 mil privacy push from Y&R

The Direct Marketing Association will launch an estimated $80 million consumer education campaign early next year to address public concerns about privacy and security. The effort, through Y&R Advertising, New York, is being developed in conjunction with the Privacy Leadership Initiative, a coalition of 10 associations and 19 marketers, including Procter & Gamble Co. and IBM Corp., formed earlier this year to act as a steering committee for the consumer awareness push. Media will include TV, print, online, direct and public relations. The DMA will approach 90 companies to fund the effort, DMA President-CEO H. Robert Wientzen told Advertising Age. "We think this is a cheap price to pay for the continued growth of the Internet and e-commerce," he said. Y&R was chosen after an agency review in which Bcom3 Group was the other finalist. The campaign, still in development, will focus on the benefits of sharing information online and the control consumers have over this information. "People are very concerned, but they're not exactly sure why they're concerned or what they're concerned about," Mr. Wientzen said. "We think there's an anxiety about the unknown as opposed to a fear of the known." The campaign will be a "watershed event" for marketers as well as consumers, he said, adding, "From a marketing standpoint, we need to get on with it; we need to get past this issue."

Gillette CEO Hawley exits as profits and revenue lag

Gillette Co. said Chairman-CEO Michael Hawley will retire immediately. President-Chief Operating Officer Edward DeGraan, 57, becomes acting CEO while the board searches for a permanent replacement. Mr. Hawley, 62, was elected chairman in April 1999 and led the drive to concentrate on Gillette's core shaving, batteries and oral-care businesses. Earlier this year, Gillette sold its haircare and stationery products brands, and shopped around portions of its Braun appliance business. On the same day Gillette announced Mr. Hawley's retirement, it also reported a 3% drop in third-quarter profits vs. a year ago, to $575 million, on flat sales of $2.32 billion. Profits and sales for the first nine months also were unchanged from a year ago.

Also . . .

Publicis Groupe, Paris, is negotiating to acquire healthcare marketing services company Nelson Communications, New York. Publicis Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy's courtship of Nelson can be seen as part of his strategy to boost revenue in the U.S. and increase the importance of marketing services revenue at Publicis. . . . Kraft Foods consolidated its Hispanic creative and media buying and planning at Bravo Group, New York. Kraft previously split responsibilities for its Hispanic work between Young & Rubicam-owned Bravo and Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados, Newport Beach, Calif. . . . Brian Moore, 50, joined the Magazine Publishers of America as VP-research. He will assume some duties of Tom Robinson, formerly senior VP-research and marketing, who's now a consultant working two days a week at the MPA. Mr. Moore had been director of research and strategy for True North Communications' strategic consulting group. . . . Conde Nast International will launch German and British editions of Glamour, with respective cover dates of February 2001 and March 2001. Last year, Conde Nast launched Glamour en Espanol, which goes to 22 Spanish-speaking countries, and in 1992 the company launched an Italian version of the beauty title. Glamour, with a U.S. circulation of 2.2 million, is Conde Nast Publications' largest magazine. . . . TiVo, marketer of personal video recorders with the TiVo service, inked a deal with another consumer electronics partner to build its digital set-top box. Thomson Multimedia's RCA brand joins Philips Electronics and Sony Electronics in manufacturing the set-top enabled with TiVo service. The RCA deal also gives TiVo another distribution channel via more than 6,000 RadioShack stores outfitted with RCA Digital Entertainment Centers. . . . Post &Partners is the new name of New York agency Emmerling Post, reflecting the shop's revamped ownership structure. Peter Post, past president and current CEO, bought out creative director and former partner John Emmerling. Mr. Emmerling will stay on as chairman through yearend and will continue to consult with the agency. Steve Crane, former associate creative director, takes over as creative director.

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