Cingular yanks Fox upfront buys

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Telecom operator Cingular Wireless has canceled an upfront commitment with Fox and is understood to be spending the money with other broadcast networks. While both Cingular and Fox described their relationship as "excellent," media-agency executives were surprised by the move given that Cingular is a major sponsor of "American Idol," and it is unusual for a major marketer to cancel an order at the beginning of the new season. The size of the ad buy is said to be anywhere between $3 million and $25 million. The switch occurred around three weeks ago and was revealed on A Cingular spokesman said: "We aren't going to comment on what we might or might not do in future and on any aspect of our ad spend." QwikFIND aar01x

P&G shifts Max Factor from Burnett to Grey

Procter & Gamble moved creative duties for its Max Factor brand in the U.S. from Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett in London to WPP Group's Grey Worldwide, New York, without a review. Burnett will continue to work on the cosmetics brand outside the U.S.; for North America, Grey's Ericsson Fina unit will take on the account. Ericsson Fina has long worked on Procter's CoverGirl brand for 15 years. A P&G spokeswoman cited Grey's "record of accomplishment" on Cover Girl, the top-selling cosmetics brand among U.S. teens. The Max Factor account is worth $30 million.

K-Y in top 10 of Wal-Mart personal-care products

Wal-Mart stores may not sell racy magazines, but its customers appear very keen on massage oils that double as personal lubricants. Johnson & Johnson's K-Y Touch Massage oils have hit the top 10 list of new health and beauty products of 2005 at the giant retailer , according to J&J's VP-Personal Care Marketing Jim Peterson.

Speaking recently at the HBA 2005 industry forum, Mr. Peterson said the massage oil line has begun to outsell the venerable lubricant brand from which it was spawned in June. That puts K-Y on pace to double sales for the second time in four years, after the launch of K-Y warming lubricants in 2002 helped the brand double sales in three years.

"We had to go into the subculture and understand the patterns and behaviors that are out there, which are more common than you'd think," Mr. Peterson said.

Among J&J's findings: Sales spike not just for Valentine's Day, but also around Memorial Day and Fourth of July. J&J is calling these "sex holidays" and building promotion plans around them. QwikFIND aar02c

`Playboy' to slash rate base by 4.7%

Playboy said it will reduce its guaranteed paid circulation for advertisers - the all-important metric known as rate base-by 4.7%, to 3 million from 3.15 million, and hike its cover price to $5.99 from $4.99. "This reflects the continuing industry-wide pressure on newsstand sales, which makes it very difficult to predict sales," Playboy Enterprises said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. QwikFIND aar01z

DDB taps McCann exec as its marketing chief

Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide named McCann Erickson executive Lori Senecal chief marketing officer. Ms. Senecal spent 14 years at McCann, most recently as exec VP and general manager of Tag, its young-adult-marketing unit. She reports to Worldwide President-CEO Ken Kaess and begins in the newly created post Nov. 1.

Mag readers assume advertisers pay for plugs

While marketers are pushing for print's answer to product placement, it turns out that most magazine readers already consider it rampant. A Starcom USA study found that 65% of consumers believe advertisers pay for editorial mentions. Nearly 83%, when they identified brand appearances in titles, found that the mentions of specific brands "fit" the content and context of its article. "This study is not a permission slip," said Brenda White, director-print investment at Starcom Worldwide. QwikFIND aar01u

Key Interpublic shareholder cuts holding

Los Angeles money manager Capital Research & Management, the largest Interpublic Group of Cos.' shareholder from 2000 to 2003, slashed its stake in the company to 1.7% in the third quarter, according to a regulatory filing last week. Capital Research boosted its stake to 12.3% after the stock plunged on accounting woes in 2002. It then cut its holding to 11.1% in 2003, 6.7% in 2004 and 5% as of June 30. A Capital Research official didn't respond to a request for comment. Interpublic declined to comment. The advertising holding company's stock has fallen about 62% since 2001.

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