McCann, Euro dispute U.K. staffing law

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[london] The transfer of the $730 million global Reckitt Benckiser account from McCann Erickson to Euro RSCG Worldwide has created a bitter legal dispute in the U.K.

Controversial new U.K. employment laws mean Euro RSCG may be forced to hire McCann's small Reckitt team.

McCann is believed to have told the staff that they have a right to a job at Euro, while Euro argues that the new law does not apply in this situation. The U.K. ad industry has been waiting for a test case to clarify the law, called the TUPE (transfer of undertaking protection of employment) law, which was updated in April. Many industries lobbied for a professional-services exemption, but the government refused.

Now the matter will be cleared up at the expense of two big marketing-services groups, who face heavy legal fees if the case goes ahead. The account officially moved on Aug. 1 (AA, July 3). The TUPE law states that staffs who work "wholly or predominantly" on a piece of business are entitled to continued employment with the winning agency. But the legal definition of "predominantly" is unclear.

Mary Budd, the employment affairs adviser at the U.K.'s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, has been warning members of the dangers of the new legislation. "We did suspect this might happen," she said. "TUPE works beautifully for public-sector employees, but it's not designed to apply to professional services. The legislation is so broad-brush that the only way to solve it is through a court case."

McCann and Euro RSCG execs declined to comment.

Only about three people at McCann's London office work predominantly on Reckitt Benckiser because in the U.K. the agency only handled the company's Boots Healthcare International business. A bigger group of about a dozen works on Reckitt Benckiser at the other incumbent, JWT, but that business doesn't move to Euro RSCG until early 2007, so JWT isn't affected yet. -emma hall

Adidas bonds rugby fans with blood of its players

[auckland, new zealand] Adidas has produced a limited edition "Bonded by Blood" poster, created by TWBA Auckland, for the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team that lets fans get closer to their team - or at least their DNA. Each player on the All Blacks squad gave a small amount of blood that was incorporated into a special bond used in the poster-printing process so it contains DNA from each one. Adidas has produced a poster for fans every year since 1999, but incorporating blood is a first. The special DNA poster is available only to those fans who buy an All Blacks jersey.

-normandy madden

Unilever selects four shops for worldwide digital work

[london] Unilever has appointed four digital agencies to work across all its brands worldwide.

Tribal DDB, OgilvyOne, Momentum/ MRM and Dare won preferred-supplier status for digital campaigns. All four are linked to Unilever roster agencies-DDB, Ogilvy & Mather, McCann Erickson and Bartle Bogle Hegarty-and have worked for Unilever before.

The winning agencies will not be aligned by category or brand. A Unilever spokesman said: "We want our category teams to be able to choose from the wide range of talent and expertise available depending on the nature of the project brief."

The pitch was overseen by Caroline Slootweg, Unilever's digital director, who leads a small team of digital-marketing specialists that advises category and brand teams in areas such as online advertising, search, podcasts, 3G mobile, MP3 and websites.

Unilever worked with about 20 digital agencies. The new roster will mean more international digital campaigns but will also allow for local adaptation and flexibility.

-emma hall

Another free paper launches in London

[london] Londoners are enjoying a battle of the free sheets, as competition among major newspaper publishers increases the city's range of free titles.Rupert Murdoch's News International plans to enter the market Sept. 18 with an afternoon title, the London Paper. Details are under wraps, but General Manager Ian Clark has described it as "a modern compact newspaper for young Londoners." The paper is expected to be about 48 pages with a print run of 400,000. One media boss who saw a dummy said it was a "fantastic proposition-very optimistic and upbeat."

The Evening Standard, published by Associated Newspapers, already distributes around 79,000 copies of a free edition called Standard Lite around midday. Insiders said the company plans to retaliate against new competition from the London Paper, possibly even launching a new title.

Associated Newspapers also owns Metro, the free morning newspaper that distributes 550,000 copies in London and makes a profit of $18 million a year. The other morning freesheet, independently-owned City A.M., is available in London's financial districts and increased circulation by 3.58% to 85,408 copies between May and June 2006. -emma hall
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