Unilever to throw out 1,000-plus brands
Anglo-Dutch package-goods giant Unilever said it will cut back its brand portfolio to 400 from 1,600 names over the next three years as part of a plan to concentrate on "powerbrands." The company didn't identify the brands it will drop, but executives said Unilever will redirect marketing resources to a smaller portfolio that will include only those brands that are first or second in their market or segment, and will include a number of global brands. Unilever wants to generate sales growth of 6% to 8% among those brands it keeps; in August, second-quarter sales grew 3% over the year before. Unilever's brands include Elizabeth Arden, Dove, Lipton and Ragu.
Metricom's Ricochet acc't goes to Kirshenbaum
Metricom tapped Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners West, San Francisco, to handle its multimillion-dollar Ricochet mobile services account. Ricochet provides wireless connection to the Internet and corporate networks; the service already is available in a handful of major cities and will roll out to 12 markets by mid-2000 and 40 markets by mid-2001.
Dell unveils first ads from Ammirati
Dell Computer Corp. last week unveiled a new TV and print new consumer campaign from Ammirati Puris Lintas, New York. The push, themed "Dell4me," is the first work from Ammirati since it won the $30 million to $40 million consumer and small business account last spring. The new campaign broadens Dell's target audience, with a strategy to drive at-home computer use. The advertising also touts the one-to-one relationship Dell has with its consumers. That strategy was used in its corporate branding campaign from BBDO Worldwide that broke this month. Ammirati also created a print campaign to target small business. Dell was busy last week on the new-product front as well, introducing two notebook computers.
JWT/Detroit rejiggers staffing setup for Ford
J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, will reorganize its 300-plus Ford Motor Co. account personnel into small, specialized units called "hot shops." Creative groups will focus on one medium, with different "shops" for print, broadcast and digital. Creative personnel will rotate through the groups in one-year stints. Media, research and account staffers also will work in small groups. A total of about a dozen groups are expected to be formed. JWT officials said the reorganization is meant to push unconventional ideas like the Ford Focus live TV commercials. The move won't reduce staff at the agency.
Stern's 'Village Voice,' sister titles on the block
Leonard Stern, owner of the Village Voice and several other alternative weeklies, announced he would sell off the free-distribution newspapers. The other titles are City Pages in the Twin Cities, Cleveland Free Times, LA Weekly, Long Island Voice, Orange County Weekly and Seattle Weekly. Veronis Suhler & Associates will help with the sale. Mr. Stern decided to sell after consulting with his children, none of whom were interested in running the business in the future. Stern Publishing has revenue of more than $80 million.
Magazine to serialize Grisham's new novel
The Oxford American, an every-other-monthly that concentrates on Southern writing and culture, will serialize John Grisham's "A Painted House" over six issues next year. Mr. Grisham, a co-owner and publisher of The Oxford American since 1994, has only written the beginning of the novel, and will complete the subsequent chapters in accordance with the magazine's deadlines. The publication has an average pressrun of 50,000 but will raise the January/February issue's run to 200,000 in anticipation of increased demand for the serialization. The Oxford American is marketing special subscriptions for the six issues in which excerpts of "A Painted House" will appear for $19.95.
Goodby tops winners at Athena Awards
Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, won the $100,000 grand prize in the 1999 Athena Awards for outstanding creativity in newspaper advertising, sponsored by the Newspaper Association of America. Fifty ads received Athenas Sept. 23 at a ceremony in New York. Multiple winners included ad agency CORE, St. Louis, which won three gold Athenas, four silver Athenas and one bronze Athena, all for work done for its newspaper client, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., won two golds, five silvers and five bronzes for its work for clients Bank One, Residence Inn at Marriott, Saab Cars USA, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and radio station WEND 106.5. Winning one gold Athena were BBDO West, Los Angeles, for ads for Starbucks Coffee Co.; Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, for BMW of North America; Ground Zero, Marina Del Rey, Calif., for Virgin Cola; and Katsin Loeb/Loeb Advertising and Sandstrom Design, Portland, Ore., for George Vogt. Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, won two silvers and two bronzes for work for Courtyard by Marriott and KPMG Peat Marwick. Just Partners, Richmond, won one silver and one bronze for Crestar Bank work. Other single silver Athena winners were Arnold Communications, Boston, for Volkswagen of America; BBD&S, Milwaukee, for Literacy Services of Wisconsin; and GSD&M, Austin, Texas, for Gerald Mann Ministries. Ogilvy & Mather won two bronzes for IBM Corp. work. J. Walter Thompson USA's New York and San Francisco offices each won bronze Athenas for Merrill Lynch Co. and the USS Hornet Museum, respectively. The $5,000 grand prize for students went to the Creative Circus,