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A quick round-up of this week's best spots. TBWA Neboko in the
Netherlands unveil the latest mod con in this follow-up to the classic Walk-In Fridge spot for Heineken. Lovely. Me, I'm
getting one of these.
Tubes of a different kind with 72andSunny's campaign for K-Swiss
sports shoes. Comedian Danny McBride lends his idiotic Kenny Powers persona (from HBO's Eastbound & Down show). If you can't
match Nike and Adidas for celebrity endorsements, you can at least make lucrative fun of them.
We love the concept behind this viral spot promoting Sears' DieHard
car batteries. Y&R is responsible for the campaign but it was actually director James Frost who came up with the idea
of getting 80s electronica hero Gary Numan (has he not aged at all in 30 years?) to play Cars on Cars. Cool.
And finally, a great new spot by BBDO New York for US satellite
broadcaster DirecTV. This Russian billionaire has everything, like a gold remote and a tiny giraffe. Keep your eyes peeled
if you want to catch all the incidental details, like those poker-playing dogs at the start. This is an ad you need to watch more
than once. Enjoy!
In the news this past week: Brands &
Procter & Gamble reported resilient full year figures for the
12 months ending June 2010. Total revenues edged up a comparable 3% to $78.9bn. (In reported terms, the figure was down slightly.
Last year's reported total of $79.0bn included P&G Pharmaceuticals, sold during the year). Net earnings slipped 5% to $12.7bn,
but only because the prior year included a $2bn lift from the sale of Folgers. Another significant detail was the $1bn
year-on-year increase in advertising expenditure to $8.6bn. Performance was generally even across P&G's different operating
businesses, with all units delivering modest increases in sales of between 1% and 3%. Fabric & Home Care remains the biggest
business with annual sales of $23.8bn. Beauty was not too far behind with $19.5bn. All divisions also reported an increase in
operating profits, ranging from 1% (Healthcare) to 16% for Baby & Family Care and an impressive 29% for Snacks & Pet Care.
Unilever also delivered decent figures for the first half of 2010.
Reported revenues climbed almost 10% to €21.9bn, their best performance for some time (partly as a result of favourable exchange
rates), while net profits jumped by 35% to €2.2bn. The group's most important regional group is now clearly its emerging markets
business in Asia, Africa, Central & Eastern Europe. That unit accounted for almost 40% of revenues, well ahead of the Americas
and Western Europe regional groups. The strongest growth has been in personal care products, with underlying sales growth
(excluding exchange rate changes) of almost 8% for the half.
Troubled handset giant Motorola unveiled a spectacular surge in
profits for its 2Q results, largely as a result of strong sales from its Droid smartphones, widely seen as one of the strongest
challengers to iPhone. Motorola has been struggling for years with poor performance after several ill-fated attempts to find a
worthy successor to its Razr series, a popular design five years ago. In the mean time, the once world-beating company's share of
the global market has fallen to single digits. Droid, though, powered by Google's Android operating system and sold through
Verizon, is looking like it could finally be the device to help Motorola turn the corner. 2Q profits soared to $162m, from $26m
this time in 2009. Nevertheless overall revenues slipped by 2% - and by 6% in the mobile phone division alone - to $5.4bn as
traditional non-smartphone operations continued to slide. In another promising development, the company was revealed to be
prepping launch of a digital tablet to take on iPad. The new device is likely to offer mobile TV via Verizon's FiOS pay-TV
service, a key selling point that would give it a significant edge over the iPad. Unlike iPad, it will also support Adobe Flash,
making it a better choice for online video watching. Launch of the new device could come in time for the winter 2010 holiday
The biggest of Britain's banks, HSBC, kicked off the local sector's
reporting season with a strong set of results that were well above analysts' expectations. Pretax profits from the first six
months doubled to $11.1bn. That half-year result was higher even that HSBC's full year profits for both 2008 and 2009, although it
was still well behind the near-$20bn profit reported for 2007. Lloyds Banking Group also reported better-than-expected
figures, with half year profits of GBP 1.6bn, compared to a GBP 3.9bn loss for the same period last year. Barclays came in
this morning with a 44% surge in half year profits to GBP 3.9bn. The key factor for all three banks was a steep fall in impairment
losses relating to bad loans. Yet despite the brightening economic picture, many banks are still widely perceived by politicians
and indeed their own customers to remain cautious about making new loans, especially in the small business sector. Lloyds and
Barclays both denied this. Lloyds chief exec Eric Daniels said that Lloyds had approved 80% of new loan applications received
during the half, but that in general demand for new borrowings remained subdued. "It is not a case of us being mean and
turning people away," he said. Those comments were echoed by Barclays' John Varley. "There has been much comment about
the banks not lending," he said, "but the facts we are seeing point to a different picture. What we are seeing is loan
applications falling steadily."
Meanwhile, Santander continued its rapid expansion, agreeing to pay
GBP 1.65m for an estate of 318 NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland branches being sold by RBS, along with their customers and
staff. All outlets will rebrand as Santander. The group is also close to a deal to acquire a $4bn portfolio of car loans from the
US consumer finance division of HSBC, and is in preliminary talks to acquire another US lender, M&T Bank Corp of Buffalo, New
York. Last month it acquired 173 new branch offices in Germany from Scandinavian bank SEB. Separately, Citibank is
preparing to put up for sale Egg, its UK-based online banking subsidiary. It acquired the business from Prudential in 2007
for GBP 575m.
After months of protracted negotiation, Geely of China completed
its acquisition of Sweden's Volvo Cars, and confirmed the appointment of Stefan Jacoby as CEO. The final price was around
$1.5m, lower than the $1.8bn originally agreed. Announcing completion of the takeover, Geely's chairman and founder Li Shufu said
he plans to strengthen Volvo's positioning as a luxury carmaker and wants to develop a top-of-the-range saloon to compete more
directly with BMW's 7-series and Mercedes' S-class, especially in China. "In the Chinese market," he said, "people
want luxury cars… luxury they see through their eyes and touch with their hands." He aims to double Volvo's sales over the
next five years, with much of the growth coming from China.
Walt Disney signed off on a deal to sell Miramax, its
once-mighty arthouse subsidiary, to investor group Filmyard Holdings. Founded by brothers Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Miramax was
one of the powerhouses of the industry during the late 1980s and early 1990s, responsible for the crossover success of numerous
independent movies and their directors. Miramax was, for example, almost singlehandedly responsible for establishing the career of
Quentin Tarantino. Disney acquired Miramax in 1993, and the Bernsteins left around ten years later. By then, Miramax's star had
waned somewhat, and its profile reduced further over the next few years as Disney concentrated on more clearly bankable hits.
Miramax was put up for sale at the beginning of this year, and the Bernsteins were among several bidders for the business.
However, they were outbid by Filmyard, a vehicle for several financiers and entrepreneurs not hitherto too closely involved in the
movie business. Disney will continue to manage the Miramax back catalogue, including Pulp Fiction and The English Patient, for a
year on behalf of the new owners. Meanwhile, in an unconnected development, Warner Bros named Lynne Frank as its new EVP,
international marketing, reporting to worldwide marketing president Sue Kroll. Frank joins Warners from the EMEA arm of sports
French drug giant Sanofi-Aventis launched a friendly takeover bid
for US biotech developer Genzyme Corp. The French group's opening salvo is a bid worth around $18.4bn. The two companies
agreed to begin negotiations.
Struggling to gain traction in the fast-changing market and a slow but
steady shift towards digital titles, America's largest bookseller Barnes & Noble has put itself up for
sale. The chain said it is reviewing strategic alternatives. Company chairman Leonard Riggio, also the largest shareholder with
around 30% of B&N's equity, said he is considering the creation of an investor group to take the company private.
Kellie Fernandez, formerly head of global marketing for Green &
Black's, the organic chocolate maker now owned by Kraft, has left the company. She was replaced on an interim basis by Mark
Palmer. Fernandez is the latest of a string of marketers to leave Cadbury since it was acquired by Kraft.
What is a nurdle, and to whom does it belong? That is the question raised
by a new legal battle between Colgate-Palmolive and GlaxoSmithKline. A nurdle is widely understood within the
oral care industry to be the given name of the squirt of toothpaste you apply to your toothbrush before use. More specifically in
this case it describes the idealised version of that squirt which forms part of the logo of GSK's Aquafresh toothpaste, and which
has suddenly started to appear on new packaging for Colgate's Total brand. GSK and Colgate finally came to blows this week over
the device when Colgate issued a pre-emptive attack asking a court to defend its right to use nurdles on its wrapper. GSK
responded with a suit which accuses Colgate of seeking to "trade off the commercial magnetism" of its own "highly
In the news this past week: Agencies
DDB replaced Eric Silver as chief creative officer of its New York
office after little more than a year in the job. Silver stepped in last year following the departure of Lee Garfinkel. Now he will
in turn be succeeded by Matt Eastman, previously CCO at DDB Australia, and a former executive creative director of M&C Saatchi
in both London and New York. DDB has been wrestling with a series of account losses over the past couple of years. Last week, tax
preparation giant H&R Block moved its $160m account out of the agency without a review. Silver is not leaving the network.
Instead, he is said to be taking charge of creative responsibilities for the agency's US business development.
Aegis plans to use its recently announced
acquisition of leading Australian media agency Mitchell & Partners as the springboard for an aggressive new business
campaign in the surrounding region. It believes the combined resources of Carat in Asia and Michells in Australia will make a far
more compelling proposition for potential customers. Nick Waters, chairman of Aegis Asia Pacific, told local trade paper B&T, "There
are around 20 multinational companies that we work with elsewhere in the world that we can talk to [now in Australia]... Clients
like the Kellogg company, J&J, Diageo, 20th Century Fox and Pernod Ricard. Neither Aegis nor Mitchells has those clients
Publicis Groupe strengthened the global network of digital
subsidiary Publicis Modem by acquiring Brazilian agency AG2. That shop is merging with the local Modem office to form AG2
Publicis Modem, under the management control of the newly acquired agency's leader Orlando Marques.
Fallon London has been tasked by Kraft's Cadbury division
with designing a new chocolate bar to promote its sponsorship of the 2012 London Olympics. According to Brand Republic, the Spots
v Stripes Challenge Bar, comes in three milk and white chocolate segments, one marked with white chocolate spots, one with stripes
and the middle section with stars. The concept of the bar is to encourage friends to set each other a simple sporting challenge.
Each competitor gets one of the end segments; but the winner of the game gets the middle segment as well. The bar is due to launch
in the UK in early September.
Debt-burdened Australian group Photon - owner of Naked, BMF and BWM
among others - said it had completed renegotiation of earn-out arrangements with all but a handful of staff. It has been
attempting to persuade the former owners of agencies it acquired in a decade-long acquisition spree to accept reduced terms for
their earn-out payments, which currently stand at a potential total of A$176m, a large chunk of which falls due for payment this
year. The payouts will now be based on group performance, rather than that of individual subsidiary units, and executives will
receive part of the sum in group shares rather than all cash. Completion of renegotiations will allow Photon to proceed with
separate talks to raise A$100m of much-needed additional capital. Photon said that 99.7% of its executives had now accepted the
new terms, which suggests that only one or two managers have so far failed to accept terms.
In account assignments, ZenithOptimedia had a great week,
collecting consolidated media duties for mobile service O2 across Europe as well as Gucci Group's media in the UK,
France and most of Asia. BBH was awarded pan-European creative for the Wonderbra brand. BBDO collected global
duties for the Johnson & Johnson's babycare range. It will share US duties with DDB satellite Roberts & Langer.
Also in the US, travel portal Orbitz placed media with Optimedia. Rival Travelocity called a review of media
and creative out of OMD and McKinney. In Australia, PepsiCo called a review of local media currently managed by independent
Eighty Ks. In Germany, Coca-Cola added local shops Plantage and KemperTrautmann to its roster to handle
bottled waters Apollinaris and KiO respectively. For all appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account
Assignments database here.
In the news this past
The Washington Post agreed to sell its venerable Newsweek magazine
to businessman Sidney Harman, formerly the founder of Harman International which makes JBL and Infinity audio equipment. It will
be controlled and run by the Harman family. The terms of the deal were not announced. Reports suggest that Harman is paying only a
nominal amount in cash but will assume "tens of millions of dollars" in financial obligations. Donald Graham, chairman
& CEO of The Washington Post Company, said "In seeking a buyer for Newsweek, we wanted someone who feels as strongly as
we do about the importance of quality journalism. We found that person in Sidney Harman. He has pledged not only to continue to
produce a lively, compelling and first-rate news magazine, but also an equally dynamic Newsweek.com - and he intends to keep a
majority of Newsweek's very talented staff." However editor Jon Meacham announced that he would take the opportunity to leave
following the handover of the title.
Meanwhile, Newsweek's longtime rival Time looks set to get a new chief.
Jack Griffin resigned abruptly this week from Meredith Corp, where he headed the national media unit responsible for Better
Homes & Gardens and Family Circle. Meredith is the #2 US consumer magazine publisher by circulation behind Time Inc.
The rumour mill says Griffin is in final negotiations to succeed Time chief executive Ann Moore, who is expected to move up to a
new role as chairman.
Satellite broadcaster Sky reported another year of strong growth.
Revenues for the year ending June 2010 hit a new high of GBP 5.9bn, and pretax profits more than doubled to almost GBP 1.2bn. The
group reported total subscriber numbers of almost 9.9m. Separately the group announced that it has acquired exclusive rights to
all drama series created by US pay-TV giant HBO for the next five years, marking a notable step forward in its attempts to
strengthen its programming content beyond sport and movies. The deal covers new shows including Martin Scorsese's forthcoming
Boardwalk Empire, as well as back catalogue including Band of Brothers, The Wire and The Pacific. No surprise also that Sky plans
to rename Virgin1, the digital strand it recently acquired with Living and others from Virgin Media. Virgin1 becomes Channel One
Sky's part-parent News Corporation also reported strong results for
the year, lifted by the spectacular success of the Avatar movie and exceptional performance from its cable division. Group
revenues rose 8% to $32.8bn, and bottom line was back in the black at $2.5bn after a net loss of $3.4bn last year. The movie
division reported one of its best ever years, reflecting the popularity not just of Avatar, but also Ice Age 3 - a huge worldwide
success - and the latest instalments in the X-Men and Night At The Museum franchises. However strong growth at cable programming,
and especially at the Fox News channel, looks set to establish that division as the group's biggest by revenues for the current
year, for the first time.
Meanwhile ITV's new chief executive Adam Crozier presented his
first set of interim financial results, which showed an 18% improvement in first half advertising revenues, and said the network
would launch paid-for HD versions of its ITV2, ITV3 and ITV4 digital channels later this year. Total first half revenues rose 9%
to GBP 987m and the group reported a GBP 97m pretax profit, compared to a loss of GBP 105 for the same period last year.
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