The Week: Wicks Group purchases 'Vibe'

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Vibe magazine found a buyer in private equity firm The Wicks Group of Cos., ending the involvement of founder Quincy Jones and setting off a round of staff changes. Danyel Smith, a former music editor and editor in chief at Vibe, was named to return as editor in chief, succeeding an ousted Mimi Valdez. New CEO Eric Gertler and new president Ari Horowitz are both principals of Keith Glen Media, which owns the progressive-culture magazine Blackbook. Len Burnett continues as Vibe's group publisher. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Upfront tally hits $9.05B as ABC wraps with $2.3B

abc brought the TV upfront buying-and-selling period to a close, as the Walt Disney Co. network sold $2.3 billion in airtime, a $200 million increase over last year. The final network TV upfront haul came out to $9.05 billion, compared to $9.1 billion last year. ABC said total revenue from prime time and other dayparts reached more than $3 billion. Its upfront tally is second to that of CBS, which reeled in $2.4 billion. Rounding out the major networks, NBC took in $1.9 billion, Fox $1.8 billion and the CW an estimated $650 million. If NBC hadn't factored in the amount it earned from adding National Football League games on Sunday nights, the upfront would have been down almost $300 million, closing at $8.75 billion. Traditionally, the upfront numbers refer only to prime-time entertainment programming, and ABC has included sporting events in its total as well.

Ikea consolidates $86M media biz with Mediaedge

swedish furniture retailer Ikea has consolidated its $86 million U.S. media-planning and buying account at WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia. The move is the latest step in Ikea's global media-business consolidation. In July 2005, the company consolidated business across 23 countries with two agencies, Mediaedge:cia and MediaCom, part of WPP Group's Group M. Previously, the business was split among 14 agencies. As a result of this latest move, independent Horizon Media is off the Ikea roster.

Valassis stock hammered after Advo announcement

valassis communications sees a bright future in combining its newspaper coupon inserts with Advo, the largest U.S. syndicated direct-mail distributor. But Wall Street isn't quite buying the idea yet. Valassis said last week it would acquire Advo for $37 a share in a $1.3 billion debt-financed deal that the companies said would be highly complementary. But Valassis shares were hammered on the news, which was followed shortly by a downgrade of the company's debt by Standard & Poor's and a downgrade of its stock by Prudential Securities. The latter said the deal would dilute Valassis earnings through 2008 and that it wasn't impressed by the growth potential offered by Advo. The move comes as Valassis faces growing competitive pressure in its core newspaper-insert business , which it for years has been diversifying beyond into its own direct-mail and electronic direct marketing services.

AOL pulls money out of TV upfront

aol pulled out of the upfront just as the broadcast market ground to a halt and the cable and syndication players take over. The ISP giant, a unit of Time Warner, spends more than $200 million annually on measured media. While upfront commitments allow for cancellations, the move is surprising given that marketers signal their intent to participate in the upfront before beginning negotiations. An AOL spokeswoman said the late move was not unusual. "We are revamping our creative strategy, as often happens in the summer," she said. "It is part of larger strategic review, so we thought it best to step back before making such a large commitment upfront." Initiative is AOL's media agency of record.

FYI ...

following four months of negotiations, Omnicom Group has acquired a majority stake in San Francisco-based interactive agency EVB. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. ... As part of a continuing effort to bolster its digital offerings, WPP Group's direct- and interactive-marketing unit Wunderman last week purchased ZAAZ, an interactive agency with offices in Seattle and Portland, Ore.
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