Adbrands Weekly Update 4th November 2010
A weekly round up of key news about 
leading advertisers, agencies and mediaowners
 
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Procter and Gamble

Starcom MediaVest

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Come and see us on Facebook! You don't have to wait until Thursday for our Ads of the Week. We now post all our favourite ads, not just the top four, on Facebook on a daily basis, as well as a selection of interesting news stories from other media. Come and have a look.

Four of our favourite ads this week: 

T-Mobile "Welcome Home"
by Saatchi & Saatchi London

Marks & Spencer "Christmas 2010"
by RKCR/Y&R London

Dell "Streak Pocket Tablet"
by Mother London

Skoda "Made Of Meaner Stuff"
by Fallon London

Update only subscribers: click here to view Ads of the Week

Please note: If you are attempting to view these ads shortly after receiving this mailout on a Thursday, you may find that the video streams run slowly because of heavy simultaneous demand from other Adbrands subscribers who have also just received the same email. Please wait for the ads to load before pressing play, or try again later. Apologies for any inconvenience.

We offer no apology for coming over all London this week, with spots from four of our finest homegrown shops. Saatchi & Saatchi follow up their Liverpool Street railway station flash mob for T-Mobile with - we think - an even more engaging stunt at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. It brought a tear even to our hardened eyes. Lovely.

RKCR/Y&R are on fire this year, following up that splendid Virgin Atlantic epic with what is almost certainly Marks & Spencer's best Christmas ad to-date. All M&S's regular spokesmodels take a turn in this homage to various different movie musicals and pop promos, accompanied by various guest stars, including rotund comedian Peter Kay in a series of improbable cameos. 

We like Mother's launch ad for the Dell Streak handset-cum-tablet, but we're not sure how it will play in Peoria. Charming Anglophilia aside, this wouldn't persuade us to select a Streak over an iPhone.

And finally, Fallon London upend preconceptions about Skoda left over from their fluffy cakemaking spot of old. The new Skoda is forged in hell by auto workers formerly employed in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

A few other ads just missed the final cut, including BBH London's Popcorn live cinema stunt for St John Ambulance, Leo Burnett Sydney's follow-up Bundaberg apology and a sexy Jupiter Drawing House spot for Woolworths South Africa. Come and see them here on our Facebook page.


In the news this past week: Brands & Advertisers

Taking advantage of the current rebound in auto sales, General Motors announced plans to issue an IPO as soon as this month. Following its restructuring last year, the US Treasury owns 61% of GM, and the Government of Canada and the United Auto Workers labour union also have large holdings. GM plans to float between $10bn and $13bn of stock, reducing the combined holding of its primary shareholders to below 50%. The US Government stake is expected to fall to around 35%. The sale has been scheduled for November 18th. GM has already repaid around $9.5bn of the $49.5bn in emergency funding it received from the state. 

Spanish banking giant Santander is to issue an IPO in its UK subsidiary early next year. The business, now one of the country's leading banks, was formed over the past few years by the group's acquisition and renaming of local brands Abbey, Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester. As much as 20% of the equity could be put up for sale, with a potential value of around GBP 4bn. However, those plans were thrown into partial disarray a few days later by the resignation of Santander UK's chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio who has accepted the top job at rival Lloyds Banking Group. He will replace outgoing head Eric Daniels when he retires next year. Santander appointed Ana Patrica Botin, daughter and heiress apparent to group chairman Emilio Botin, as Horta-Osorio's successor. She currently runs the group's Banesto subsidiary in Spain.

Cathryn Sleight, formerly group marketing director for Coca-Cola in the UK, is to join Unilever as global VP for Knorr, the packaged goods giant's single biggest brand. She will report to Gail Klintworh, EVP, savoury foods. Separately, Asda appointed Simon King as chief operating officer. He takes over that role from Andy Clarke, who was recently named as chief executive.

Furniture retailer Ikea published profit figures for the first time, albeit a year late. The privately owned group reported net profit for the year ended August 2009 of E2.5bn, on sales of E21.8bn. It also released revenues for the most recent financial year, showing a 6% increase to E23.1bn. It said it would publish its latest profit figure at a later date. The UK contributed revenues of GBP 1.2bn in the most recent financial year, allowing Ikea to maintain its lead over Argos as the country's biggest supplier of home furnishings.

There were signs that Motorola may finally have turned the corner after several years of steep decline in sales and market share. The troubled group reported its first quarter of positive sales growth since 2006, although the mobile devices division was still loss-making. Overall sales rose by 13% to $4.9bn, including a 20% lift within the mobile devices division to $2bn as a result of the popularity of the group's Android-powered handsets. "Droid X continues to sell extremely well, and we have had several other successful smartphone launches globally," said Sanjay Jha, co-chief executive and head of Motorola Mobility. "As we continue to make progress across the organisation, we remain focused on further improving our financial results." Motorola is due to split in two later this year, separating out its mobility and set-top box businesses as independent businesses.

The creditors of ailing movie giant MGM gave their overwhelming support to a takeover by production company Spyglass Entertainment, despite a last-ditch offer from rival producer Lions Gate. As a result, MGM has filed for bankruptcy in a pre-agreed plan whereby it will swap around $4bn of debt for equity in a new business formed from the its merger with Spyglass under the latter's management team. Spyglass is best-known for past hits The Sixth Sense and Bruce Almighty, and it was a co-producer of the Star Trek reboot. The first new release from the merged group will be The Tourist, a potential blockbuster which stars Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.

It's beginning to look like a showdown is looming, with handbags drawn, between Bernard Arnault's LVMH and Hermes. In a sneak attack which closely resembled his ill-fated raid on Gucci Group ten years ago, Arnault has secretly accumulated a 17% stake in its smaller rival, which is still controlled by members of the founding family. LVMH has protested that it has no ulterior motives but, out of pure altruism, wants only to protect the Hermes's group's independent spirit. No one believes that. In an interview with the Financial Times, Hermes CEO Patrick Thomas called on Arnault to sell his shares. "It's clear his intention is to take over the company and the family will resist that." Added chairman Betrand Puech: "We would like to convince him that this is not the right way to operate and that it's not friendly. If he entered in a friendly way, then we would like him to leave in a friendly way." The family, he added, intends to keep control of the group for the foreseeable future. "It will be the long run for him," agreed Thomas. "That long run means eternity, and to quote Woody Allen 'eternity is very long, especially at the end'."


In the news this past week: Agencies

There were 3Q results from WPP, Interpublic and Canadian marketing services group MDC Partners. Sir Martin Sorrell had promised a strong performance from WPP in 3Q, and the results delivered exactly that, with reported revenues up by more than 12% to GBP 2.25bn (or almost $3.5bn US and E2.7bn in Euros). The organic - or "like-for-like" as WPP prefers to call it - increase, without the effect of acquisitions and currency fluctuation, was 7.5%, representing the group's best such performance since the final quarter of 2000. Like-for-like (LFL) revenues from the US were up 9.3%, while the UK delivered 7.6%. For the year-to-date, revenues were almost GBP 6.7bn, up 6% reported and 4% LFL. New business for the quarter was GBP 880m (or $1.4bn), bring the YTD total to just under GBP 3.0bn ($4.8bn).

There was even better news from Interpublic, which demonstrated the continuing strength of its recovery after a near-decade-long struggle, with the best topline growth by any of the big groups. IPG surprised analysts with an impressive 9.4% jump in organic 3Q revenues to $1.56bn. That put it ahead of all its rivals for the second consecutive quarter, and the increase was reassuringly broad-based, spread between new business and increased spend from existing clients. Nevertheless, the rise in revenues was accompanied by a sharp increase in salaries, suggesting that the group might find it hard to deliver improved profit margins next year. Those concerns acted as a damper on the company's share price. YTD revenues were $4.5bn, a 5.4% organic increase on last year.

MDC Partners, parent company to Crispin Porter & Bogusky and Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners, among other agencies, delivered a messy but nonetheless impressive quarter. 3Q revenues were $179m, equivalent to organic growth of 7.5%. However that was lower than many analysts had expected, and so was the group's profit margin. The reason was late signing of a couple of new business contracts (see account assignments below) and higher than expected pitch costs. Excluding those hiccups, Deutsche Bank estimated underlying organic growth of 11%. The best performance came from the group's so-called strategic marketing services division, which houses retainer-based agencies such as CP&B and KBS&P. Their combined organic growth almost hit 13% for the quarter, but was held back by more specialised performance marketing services agencies, which delivered another quarter of decline. An overall comparison of all the quoted marketing groups put Interpublic at the top of the table for organic growth in 3Q with 9.4%, followed by Publicis (9.2%), WPP (7.5%), MDC (7.5%), Omnicom (6.7%), Aegis (5.5%) and Havas (5.3%). 

US media group Meredith Corporation gave notice that it was planning further acquisitions to bulk up its fast-growing marketing services division, which operates as Meredith Integrated Marketing. It has established a new unit, the Emerging Markets Group, to house digital shops Hyperfactory and New Media Strategies and promoted the latter's head Peter Snyder to run the division. He told AdAge, "Meredith is really hungry to continue to grow through acquisitions. So we're creating a house for that activity. We're going to be really hot on the acquisition trail for the best and the brightest in mobile, social or whatever else emerges in digital."

ZenithOptimedia was named as the UK's Agency of the Year in the this year's Media Week Awards, in recognition of a strong year in which it lost no accounts at all and picked up GBP 175m in new business. The agency recently confirmed that it will split in two early next year, to establish Zenith Media and Optimedia as two separate brands once more. London's Evening Standard newspaper was named as Media Brand of the Year, its first under the ownership of Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev. In the IPA Effectiveness awards, MCBD took the Grand Prix for its epic "as good as it's ever been" campaign for Hovis bread.

Tom Moult, a fixture at the Australian operations of Euro RSCG for the past 20 years, has quit the network to join rival Ogilvy as chairman, working alongside CEO Stuart O'Brien. Moult was most recently chairman of Havas Pacific, overseeing both Euro RSCG and sister shop The Furnace. In the UK, Jon Ingall, one of the founding partners in Havas-owned CRM agency Archibald Ingall Stretton is to leave early next year. He plans to retire to Corsica, lucky chap. Ian Pearman was promoted from managing director to chief executive of AMV BBDO London.

Omnicom has been shopping again, making two small but significant acquisitions in Europe. The two new additions to the fold are German healthcare marketing shop Face To Face and UK-based design and communications shop The Core. Both join the group's DAS Global speciality marketing services division.

In account assignments, Crispin Porter & Bogusky added two important new clients in insurance giant MetLife and Kraft's global chocolate brand Milka. Indie Goodness Mfg picked up its biggest new business win to-date with its appointment as agency of record for Toshiba's consumer electronics business. Darden Restaurants appointed Starcom for media on its Red Lobster, Olive Garden and other chains. In the UK, mortgage lenders Halifax and Nationwide each called a review of their advertising, held by DLKW Lowe and Leagas Delaney respectively. Johnson & Johnson appointed Dare to manage pan-Euro digital advertising for its Clean & Clear skincare brand. Adam & Eve picked up two new accounts in video-on-demand service Youview and a multibrand Christmas campaign for Diageo. The German trade press reported that Italian bank Unicredit has appointed BBH London to a new pan-European corporate campaign. In Australia, L'Oreal consolidated media at Universal McCann. Previously the business had been shared with ZenithOptimedia. That shift echoes a similar shift in the US earlier this year. For all appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account Assignments database here


In the news this past week: Media

US broadcast network Fox confirmed rumours that it had sold out all of its advertising inventory for the upcoming Super Bowl XLV game. That makes the 2011 game one of the fastest sell-outs ever, with three months still to go before match-date. This feat reflects improving confidence among big marketers. General Motors and Pepsi's beverages division are both back in the game, after giving the 2010 clash a miss because of concerns over the economy. According to the industry buzz, Fox had been chasing $2.5m to $3m for each 30-second slot.

News International, the UK newspaper publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, finally released some results from its controversial decision to erect a paywall around the website for The Times. The results were arguably better than many had expected. As many as 105,000 users have purchased a digital subscription to the site, and another 100,000 or so subscribers to the print edition have activated their free digital account. The strongest response has been from iPad and Kindle users, whose purchase of Times Online apps accounted for half of the digital-only figures. Chief executive Rebekah Brooks said she was "very pleased" with the results. "These figures very clearly show that large numbers of people are willing to pay for quality journalism in digital formats." However some observers were less sure, and criticised the vagueness of the information released. Alex Randall, online trading director for Aegis Media, told the Financial Times: "We've got some numbers but they don't really tell us much. The important element from an advertising point of view is who is paying, how long they're spending on the site and which areas of the site they're looking at."

It's far from clear whether AOL's attempts to transform itself into an advertising-funded rather than subscription-based business will pay off. At a time when most online businesses have reported sharp increases in advertising revenues, AOL is still in double-digit decline. For its most recent quarter, ad revenues dropped by a further 27% to $293m, and that figure accounts for only just over half of total sales. The old dial-up subscription business still contributes 44% of revenues, or $245m last quarter. CEO Tim Armstrong put a brave face on the figures, highlighting the group's string of acquisitions to boost editorial content, and he was helped by the fact, that even after an overall 26% decline in total quarter-on-quarter revenues to $564m, the result was still above most analysts' expectations. Also, cost-cutting and sale of non-core businesses caused net income to more than double to $172m. The scale of AOL's decline from what was once the world's biggest internet company is dramatic. A comparison with that other troubled web giant Yahoo is instructive. Yahoo is now around three times AOL's size, with 3Q revenues of $1.6bn, including ad revenues which grew 4% quarter-on-quarter to $1.4bn. Net income was $396m.

American Media Inc, the group behind supermarket scandal sheet National Enquirer and fab abs bible Men's Fitness, said it would file for bankruptcy before the end of the month in order to restructure its $825m of debt. It has already secured the agreement of a majority of bondholders to swap their debt for equity. The group reported revenues of $412m for its most recent fiscal year, 

Chad Hurley, founder of YouTube, stepped down as CEO although he will continue to advise the company on a consultancy basis. He is being replaced by Salar Kamangar, formerly VP, applications at parent Google. Hurley and partners Steve Chen and Jawed Karim sold YouTube to Google in 2006 for $1.65bn.

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Simon Tesler
Publisher, Adbrands