GM job cuts won't trigger ad change

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Despite plans to close nine North American facilities by the end of 2006, General Motors Corp. will stay the course with its brand advertising, Chairman-CEO Rick Wagoner said last week.

Mr. Wagoner said the closures will result in the elimination of 30,000 manufacturing jobs from 2005 through 2008, mostly through attrition and early retirements. North American annual capacity will be trimmed by some 1 million units. GM has already reduced production by 1 million units since 2002.

Advertising will continue to highlight consumer benefits and value as the marketer adjusts sticker prices closer to actual transaction prices, Mr. Wagoner said. GM will take a more regional approach to advertising, incentives and promotions in certain undisclosed markets where it is underperforming.

The latest moves, Mr. Wagoner said, accelerate GM's cost-cutting push from the previously announced target of $5 billion to $6 billion by the end of 2006, plus an additional savings of $1 billion in net material costs. QwikFIND aar15s

`Harry,' `Chicken Little' fail to jolt box office

A few big weekends at the box office might not chase away Hollywood's box-office blues. Warner Bros.' "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" had a better-than-expected opening with $101.4 million and Disney's "Chicken Little" will top $100 million soon, but the box office is still down 6% from a year ago, and attendance has decreased 8%, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co. There's still nearly half a billion dollars separating this year's box-office receipts from last, and industry insiders say that gap may be too wide to fill even with Universal's "King Kong" and Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" still to come.

Recent crowds for "Harry Potter" and "Chicken Little" show that audiences still want to go to the movies but seem to turn out in significant numbers only for the event pictures, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations. "Those seem to be the only ones to generate that must-see fervor on the part of the moviegoer," he said. "King Kong," "Narnia" and some Oscar-bait fare like "Memoirs of a Geisha" and "Rent" could help lessen the damage from the summer doldrums, Mr. Dergarabedian said.

NBC to move Trio from TV to broadband

Trio, NBC Universal's tiny cabler in about 8 million homes, will find new life Jan. 1 as a broadband-only channel, the company announced last week. The move underscores how valuable broadband content is becoming as marketers are more interested in advertising within streaming video content. The broadband channel will live on and the site of its sibling network, Bravo, and will show several of Trio's series and original programming. Lauren Zalaznick, president of both Bravo and Trio, will oversee its development.

JetBlue picks JWT for $24M creative biz

JetBlue Airways handed its $24 million creative account to WPP Group's JWT, New York, according to executives familiar with the review. Other contenders were incumbent The Ad Store as well as McGarryBowen, Taxi and Amalgamated, all New York-based independents. Media duties are going to WPP's MediaCom, New York, these executives said. Media incumbent Wieden & Kennedy, New York, did not defend. At press time, a JetBlue spokeswoman said the airline had nothing to announce, as it had yet to finish notifying the agencies. Agencies either did not return calls or referred calls to JetBlue. QwikFIND aar16a

TiVo to let subscribers watch shows on iPods, PSPs

Adding fuel to the debate over how media will be consumed in the future, TiVo subscribers will soon be able to watch time-shifted programming on their iPods and PlayStation Portables. The company will begin selling the portable media player software for its TiVoToGo service in first quarter for a one-time fee between $15 and $30 dollars. Subscribers can upload the time-shifted content they recorded the night before and have their Season Pass selections-favorites TiVo automatically records-uploaded overnight. The software works with every TiVo-recorded show.

WPP yanks Neil French from lineup at AdAsia

Controversial creative Neil French was the most talked-about speaker on the first day of Asian regional advertising conference AdAsia in Singapore-even though his appearance was abruptly canceled at WPP Group's insistence.

More than 1,000 delegates attended the Nov. 21-23 AdAsia conference in Singapore, and many were eager to hear Mr. French, who created a furor at a talk in Canada when he called women creatives "crap."

In Asia, where Mr. French has spent much of his career based in Singapore, not everyone understands what the fuss is about. At a private dinner Nov. 21 one Australian creative said Mr. French is simply "cheeky" and had a good record on encouraging and promoting women. QwikFIND aar15v

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