The Week

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AOL cuts online marketing staff

AOL Time Warner's America Online laid off 90 people last week in its interactive marketing division, the ad sales arm of the ailing online unit of AOL Time Warner, leaving the division with 550 staffers. The job cuts involved account services, support and ad sales personnel in New York, Dulles, Va., and other AOL local offices. Widely anticipated, the layoffs come as AOL CEO Jon Miller prepares to deliver his turnaround plan for the online service Dec. 3 The plan, which will focus on cultivating revenue from subscriptions, transactions, commerce, gaming and original content, reflects AOL's plans to decrease its reliance on advertising. An AOL spokesman said the national ad sales force will be concentrated in key hubs including New York and Los Angeles. In other moves, AOL named Lisa Brown to the newly created position of exec VP-interactive marketing. QwikFIND aao22h

Give up SUVs, for God and country

The auto industry's hot-selling sport utilities are under fire in ad campaigns planned by two separate groups. The Evangelical Environmental Network, a group of 23 religious organizations led by Rev. Jim Ball, plans to launch a :30 TV spot in eight metro markets in four states Dec. 2 with the theme "What would Jesus drive?" Zimmerman & Markman, Santa Monica, created the spot; Media Strategies, Denver, is handling the $65,000 buy. Also, the newly formed non-profit SUV Ad Campaign expects to start shooting patriotic TV spots urging people to stop driving gas-guzzling SUVs. Syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington is among the organizers. Bill Hillsman, president of Northwoods Advertising, Minneapolis, prepared the media plan. QwikFIND aao23c

Cingular CMO Vann resigns

Cingular wireless, the No. 2 wireless carrier, is looking for a new chief marketing officer after the resignation last week of Virginia Vann. Ms. Vann was responsible for hiring Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York and Atlanta, the company's agency of record. A Cingular spokesman said the estimated $400 million account is not in review. The resignation was spurred by the Nov. 6 arrival of a new president-CEO, Stanley Sigman. Previously, Ms. Vann reported directly to Cingular's former President-CEO Stephen Carter, according to a person familiar with the situation. For now, marketing will report to Chief Operating Officer Mark Feidler; a search is on for a successor. QwikFIND aao22w

Arnold to drop McGrath name

Arnold mcgrath Worldwide was renamed Arnold Worldwide, New York, as the Havas agency looks to extend the Arnold trademark. The decision follows the agency's loss of $81.2 million in Procter & Gamble Co. accounts two weeks ago. Chairman-CEO Pat McGrath, P&G's primary steward for its two decades at the agency, is expected to retire at the end of the year. Arnold's other offices are its Boston headquarters, McLean, Va., and St. Louis. Arnold acquired a Midwestern presence after buying and renaming Simmons Durham in 2001. QwikFIND aao22q

Davis makes bid for Universal

Billionaire marvin davis, who owned 20th Century Fox in the early `80s, said he will continue to pursue an acquisition of Vivendi Universal SA's Vivendi Universal Entertainment after his offer of $15 billion, plus $5 billion in debt, was rejected last week. Vivendi executives said the company is not interested in selling, and a spokesman told Reuters last week a sale "is not on the agenda." The offer comes at the same time Vivendi is looking to create a separate publicly traded entertainment holdings company headed by Barry Diller, chairman of Vivendi Universal Entertainment.

NBC leads in ratings race

With one week left to go, NBC is now in the lead to win the November sweeps ratings race. In the key adults 18 to 49 demographic race, NBC is at a Nielsen Media Research 5.1 rating. Through the first two weeks of the sweeps, NBC had a 5.0 rating. ABC is in a surprising strong second place-thanks to its top rated Wednesday show, "The Bachelor"-with a 4.4 average rating. ABC was pacing at a 4.3 rating after two weeks. Next comes CBS with a 4.0-a slight drop from its two-week rating average. Fox is in fourth place with a 3.4, down 0.2 from its two-week average. The WB garnered a 2.1 rating and UPN a 1.8 number.

FYI ...

Kmart corp. moved its multicultural marketing assignments to two independent shops, Chisholm-Mingo Group, New York, for African American advertising, and Cultura, Dallas, for Hispanic marketing. QwikFIND aao22y. ... For the first time in two years, Ford Motor Co.'s Ford Division returned to national TV last week for Taurus, its flagship sedan. Rick Novak, Ford's car advertising manager, said Taurus will get more ad spending in the 2003 model year in an integrated media push, with funds shifting from events and sponsorships into traditional media. WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson, Detroit, handles. QwikFIND aao23a.

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