Adbrands Weekly Update 10th June 2010
A weekly round up of key news about 
leading advertisers, agencies and mediaowners
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United Biscuits

Four of our favourite ads this week: 

Sapporo "Legendary Biru"
by Dentsu Canada

Hovis "Miss Chief"
by MCBD London

Cadbury's Flake "Unfold"
by Fallon London

Adidas "Star Wars Cantina 2010"
by Sid Lee

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.

Ads of the Week divides its attention this week between the UK and Canada. First up is a stunning vertical scroll for Sapporo beer, from Dentsu Canada. It's a fabulously lavish execution, designed to cement Sapporo's growing popularity in Canada, now its second largest market outside Japan. Magical.

Here in the UK, MCBD present the follow-up to their widely admired debut spot for iconic wrapped loaf Hovis. That panoramic historical montage, in which a boy runs through a series of historical scenes from Victorian London through World War II, the Swinging Sixties, miners' strike and millennium celebrations, won Hovis many fans but we found it a touch mawkish. We love the new spot, though, which promotes a Hovis Healthy Oats variant. Not sure that it says much about wrapped bread, but it's filled with a wicked joie de vivre which makes us smile every time we see it. Glad we're not that little girl's mum or dad though....

A change of pace for the new ad from Fallon London for another British icon, Cadbury's Flake. "The crumbliest flakiest chocolate..." tagline has gone finally, for the first time in almost 50 years, and so has singer Joss Stone who made a brief and arguably misguided appearance as a Flake girl in 2008. Instead the new spot is more in tune with Cadbury's more indirect "Glass And A Half" positioning. It's haunting and lovely to look at. But what's the betting that this abstract approach to marketing won't last for much longer under new owners Kraft? Fallon's swansong, perhaps?

And finally, the new spot for Adidas Originals from Canadian agency Sid Lee. We were a little brutal about the partnership between Adidas and the Star Wars brands when it was first unveiled a couple of months ago. ("How uncool!" is what we said). Well, we take it back. This update of the famous Cantina sequence from the original Star Wars movie is an absolute delight. There are cameos from a host of famous faces including David Beckham (we don't see a career in acting on the cards for our David judging by this appearance), rapper Snoop Dogg, musicians Daft Punk, Noel Gallagher and Ian Brown, and of course Alec Guinness and Harrison Ford. Wonderful.

In the news this past week: Brands & Advertisers

Ford Motor Company announced plans to end production of its Mercury passenger car business, positioned mid-way between mass-market Ford and top-of-the-range Lincoln. The brand, originally introduced in the 1930s, has suffered a steady decline over the past few years, falling from sales of almost 360,000 units in 2000 to under 93,000 for 2009. Production of the Mercury line-up will cease at the end of 2010. Instead the company promises to plough additional resources into Lincoln, a competitor in the luxury market, but one which currently trails in 8th place, far behind leaders Lexus and Cadillac. Lincoln's reinvention will include the launch of seven new or redesigned models over the next four years. With the sale of Volvo also expected to complete by the end of the year, Ford will start 2011 with a portfolio of just two car brands, compared to eight (including Mazda) in 2000.

After months of negotiations, the German government yesterday declined to provide the €1.1bn federal loan that General Motors had requested to support an ambitious €3.7bn restructuring of its troubled Opel subsidiary in Europe. That refusal throws a significant spanner into GM's plans, although it is still likely to secure a much lower level of funding from the individual German states where Opel's factories are located. However, the federal government has suggested that GM should fund the bulk of its financial requirements from its own resources. The group recently reported its first quarterly profit for several years.

Meanwhile former GM sales & marketing chief Jonathan Browning has joined Volkswagen as head of global sales, based at VW HQ in Wolfsburg, Germany. Browning was one of numerous senior managers who departed GM last year as part of a companywide shakeup. Also this week, Luca de Meo was been named as Volkswagen Group's head of global marketing. Both men report to executive board member for sales & marketing Christian Klingler.

Walmart's UK subsidiary Asda agreed to acquire the local operations of Danish-owned discount supermarket chain Netto for GBP 778m. The deal is subject to regulatory approval, but if passed without conditions, would add a further 193 small supermarkets to Asda's estate. It would also bump Asda's share of the grocery market to around 17.6%, widening the gap with Sainsbury, which has around 16.3%, but still well below Tesco at 30.5%. Analysts expect further deals to follow as Asda sets out to realise a stated goal of becoming the UK's biggest general retailer by 2015. Home Retail Group, parent to Argos and Homebase, has been earmarked by observers as another possible acquisition target.

There were management changes at several of Britain's other leading supermarket groups. Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy announced plans to retire in March next year. He will be replaced by Phil Clarke, currently head of international in Europe and Asia. Among other changes, Tim Mason, Tesco's head of international for North America takes on the additional role of deputy group chief executive; and commercial director Richard Brasher becomes chief executive for the UK & Ireland. Meanwhile, Morrisons announced the appointment of Richard Hodgson as commercial director. He was formerly marketing director at Waitrose. That company filled the gap created by his departure by shifting Mark Williamson to the role of commercial director, and promoting Rupert Thomas to marketing director.

Apple unveiled the 4th generation of its iPhone. The new handset is slimmer, with a stainless steel frame, and features two cameras, front and back. The camera on the front allows users to video chat with picture-in-picture of the recipient of the call (provided he or she also has an iPhone 4 of course...). Meanwhile sales of Apple's iPad broke through the 2m mark after only two months on-sale in the US, and only three days after the devices became available for the first time in other international markets. Analysts expect the company to sell more than 10m units of the iPad this year.

US mobile carrier Sprint launched the country's first 4G handset last Friday with a big push. The Evo handset, made by HTC, is available exclusively on Sprint, the only US mobile company to offer a 4G service, promising even faster connections than current 3G technology. Sprint is banking on the service to boost subscriber numbers, which have fallen steadily as a result of the polarisation of the US market in favour of the two main carriers Verizon and AT&T. Currently, Sprint has around 47m subscribers in the US, well behind Verizon's 92m and AT&T's 86m.

Pieter Nota, currently responsible for brands, sales & marketing at Nivea-owner Beiersdorf, is leaving the company to join Philips. He will succeed Andrea Ragnetti as head of the Dutch group's "consumer lifestyle" division, which comprises its consumer electronics and household appliances businesses. Nota will be replaced at Beiersdorf by Markus Pinger, already a member of the company's five-man board. A new addition to the board is Peter Feld, who joins as executive member responsible for the Europe region. He was previously general manager of Johnson & Johnson Deutschland.

In other personnel moves, Diageo restructured its marketing department, grouping together all of its whisky, vodka, gin and rum brands under two separate teams. David Gates was appointed as global category director for whisky; Edward Pilkington was named as global category director for vodka, gin and rum. Elsewhere, Lee Rolston joined the exodus of Cadbury managers in the wake of the takeover by Kraft. Formerly the global brand director for Cadbury's blocks and bars, he is to join Muller Dairy as UK marketing director. Insurance comparison website, part of the Admiral group, appointed Russell Hoban as chief marketing officer.

US dairy group Dean Foods was reported to have put its UK subsidiary Rachel's Organic up for sale. It acquired the business in 2004 but Rachel's, best known for its upmarket yoghurts, lags well behind the leaders in its sector. Another organic food company, Plum Baby, which specialises in the baby food sector, was acquired by private equity firm Darwin for 10m.

The UK's Prudential abandoned attempts to acquire AIA, the Asian subsidiary of AIG, after failing to win the support of shareholders for the bid. Last minute attempts to negotiate a reduction in the agreed deal price of $35.5bn were declined by AIG.

In the news this past week: Agencies

David Kenny, the former Digitas chief who had been widely regarded as a favourite to succeed Maurice Levy next year as CEO of Publicis Groupe, is to leave the company. Kenny is said to have been reluctant to relocate from his home in Boston to Publicis HQ in Paris. As a result of that decision, group EVP Jean-Yves Naouri was promoted to the role of chief operating officer, becoming the clear #2 within the group. At the same time, Maurice Levy has agreed at the request of the group's supervisory board to stay on as group CEO beyond the end of his current contract, which was due to expire at the end of next year. "To the question put to me by the supervisory board, I said that I would stay on board as long as needed," he confirmed. "I will make sure the transition happens when the time is right, so that my succession takes place in the best possible conditions for the group, its clients, employees and shareholders." Although the latest changes make Naouri the most likely successor to Levy, the new COO will need to work hard to raise his low global profile to match that of the effusive and media-friendly Levy. Meanwhile Starcom MediaVest chairman Jack Klues takes over Kenny's digital responsibilities on Publicis Groupe's VivaKi media umbrella, which they previously ran jointly.

Campaign reports today that talks are underway between Interpublic's Lowe network and UK marketing services group Creston regarding acquisition of the latter's DLKW, now one of the country's top ten ad agencies. If those discussions are successful, DLKW would most likely combine with Lowe's long-suffering London outpost. In 2002, Lowe London was the UK's third-biggest agency with billings of almost GBP275m, according to Nielsen estimates. As a result of a string of account losses, though, it had slumped by last year to the local #26 with billings of just GBP 53m. DLKW, on the other hand, ranked 10th, with billings of GBP 185m. There are long-standing connections between the two agencies. DLKW was once part-owned by Lowe.

Ed Morris, former executive creative director of Lowe London, has joined independent shop Rapier as creative partner and group director alongside founder Jonathan Stead. He replaces John Townshend, who is leaving to set up his own shop. This is Morris's first full-time role since he left Lowe in January last year. Rapier is also adding Simon Welsh as executive creative director. Meanwhile, Lowe Worldwide global head of communications planning, Mark Sherwood, is leaving to join Saatchi & Saatchi New York.

Advertising Age reports that Jon Bond, one of the founders of what is now Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal & Partners (KBSP), has begun to assemble his own marketing services roll-up. Bond left KBSP, now a unit of Canada's MDC Partners, at the beginning of this year and since then has quietly invested in several other agencies, most notably Victors & Spoils, a breakaway from MDC's star subsidiary Crispin Porter & Bogusky. V&S has grabbed a few headlines over the past few days for winning a sizeable social media brief from US satellite broadcaster Dish Network. In a press release announcing his investment last month in V&S, Bond commented "Running a traditional agency today is like being captain of the Titanic, and Victors & Spoils [is] the iceberg. As an investor, I stand behind new agency models designed to challenge the 'unsinkable.'" AdAge speculates that Bond will launch his new roll-up venture under the name 2morrow, a web domain he recently registered.

Joyce King Thomas, currently chief creative director of McCann New York, and chair of the network's global creative council, is to leave the agency in August. Her replacement has yet to be announced. Over at Ogilvy, Lars Bastholm was confirmed as chief creative officer for O&M New York in addition to his current role as chief digital creative officer for North America.

Daryl Arnold, one of the two brothers who run independent global digital network Profero, has resigned to set up an as yet unspecified new business. According to reports, the new venture will complement Profero's existing operations. His brother Wayne Arnold, currently head of Profero North America, steps up to become group chief executive.

Fast-growing London independent Karmarama is to add public relations to its service offering, through a joint venture with Chris McCafferty, a director of PR company Shine Communications. The new unit, headed by McCafferty, will be based in Karmarama's offices.

Widely admired New York agency McGarryBowen, a subsidiary of Dentsu, announced plans to open an office in London. The move was in response to requests from key multinational clients including Kraft, Disney and Marriott.

It's been a busy couple of weeks for account assignments. Diageo called a review of all below-the-line marketing for its UK drinks brands, with a view to consolidating the business with a smaller centralised roster. Among those agencies affected by the review are AKQA, Agency Republic, Tullo Marshall Warren and Chemistry Communications. Bartle Bogle Hegarty captured global creative for Diageo's Bailey's liqueur. Pernod-Ricard shifted global creative for its competing Kahlua brand to TBWA. Lufthansa called a review of global media, held by Mindshare. Royal Bank of Scotland called a review of its substantial UK media account, currently held by MediaCom. The review affects all brands including NatWest retail bank and the Direct Line and Churchill insurance businesses. Kraft awarded the consolidated Kraft/Cadbury media account for Australia to Cadbury incumbent Carat. Alberto-Culver dropped Campbell Mithun from its roster and split creative for its Tresemme, Noxzema and St Ives brands between Arnold Worldwide and Mullen. Porsche awarded global media to Omnicom's PHD network. Upscale denim company Diesel is looking for a new creative agency after the account was resigned by Anomaly after just nine months. Mitsubishi Motors placed US creative with 180 Los Angeles. For all other appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account Assignments database here

In the news this past week: Media

Media group Hearst Corporation agreed a deal to acquire digital marketer iCrossing after months of negotiations. The online agency, best known for its strength in search marketing and brand tracking, has accepted an offer of $325m, a significant improvement on Hearst's original offer of $250m last year. The agency, which has offices in the UK and Germany as well as the US, is expected to remain a standalone entity under the umbrella of a newly created Hearst Marketing Services division. Further acquisitions are likely to follow in due course. Hearst's move into digital marketing echoes the expansion of rival but smaller publisher Meredith Corporation into online services, and in fact the group has hired a former Meredith executive, Matthew Petersen, to run Hearst Marketing Services, although iCrossing's CEO Don Scales is expected to remain at the helm of his own company following the deal. Hearst's media portfolio includes a clutch of US newspapers including the Houston Chronicle and San Francisco Chronicle, several cable channels and US TV stations. However it is best known for its magazine business, with titles including Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar and Esquire. Hearst's UK-based magazine subsidiary trades as The National Magazine Company, or NatMags.

The US broadcast networks have begun to wrap up upfront sales of advertising inventory for the 2010/11 season. Most networks and their agencies reported a significant improvement in commitments from advertisers after last year's very weak showing. Fox, CBS and ABC have all completed sales, with increases of as much as 15% in total values. Estimates put CBS sales at as much as $2.6bn, ABC at up to $2.4bn, and Fox at $1.9bn. Those three networks are each understood to have found buyers for between 75% and 80% of their Fall/Winter inventory, well up on last year's average 65% sale, while costs per thousand viewers are said to be up 8% or 9% on 2009. The last of the big four, NBC, is expected to close its final deals by the end of this week.

French national daily Le Monde announced plans to seek a buyer for a majority stake in the business. Since its foundation in 1944 the newspaper has prided itself on its editorial independence, with control of the company retained by its journalists through a trust. However, recessionary pressures forced Le Monde to seek outside investors for the first time a few years ago, and several other media owners including Lagardere and Grupo Prisa of Spain now have minority stakes. The continuing slump in sales and advertising revenues has now prompted the paper to seek a controlling owner who can help reduce its growing mountain of debt and provide an increasingly urgent injection of cash. Le Monde is France's #3 newspaper by circulation behind market-leading daily Le Figaro and national sports paper L'Equipe. There are thought to be three potential buyers: Prisa, French magazine publisher Le Nouvel Observateur (also already a minority shareholder), and a private equity consortium.

ITV named Fru Hazlitt, previously chief executive of GCap Media and former managing director of Yahoo UK, as managing director of commercial & online, with responsibility for all advertising sales. The position combines many of the responsibilities currently held by Rupert Howell, who announced his departure from ITV two weeks ago, as well as oversight of the company's online businesses. However Hazlitt will not join the ITV board, of which Howell was a member, and will not be responsible for marketing. Instead marketing director David Pemsel will report directly to recently appointed chief executive Adam Crozier.

As had been expected, Virgin Media agreed to sell its small collection of cable channels to arch-rival Sky in a deal worth around 160m. The portfolio comprises the Bravo, Living, Virgin 1 and Challenge brands.

The David Beckham brand clearly has a few more years in it. England's most famous footballer has been signed up as the first ever global sports brand ambassador for Yahoo. He will front a new global marketing campaign launching this week to promote Yahoo as a one-stop shop for web coverage of the World Cup.

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Simon Tesler
Publisher, Adbrands