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Downey Jr adds a new super-hero role to his fast-expanding list. Iron-man. Sherlock Holmes. And now perhaps the greatest hero of all:
Planters' Mr Peanut. Here's a great seasonal ad from TBWA satellite agency Being New York, working with animation
house Laika (best known for the movie Coraline). You have to watch this a few times to catch all the intricate detailing of the
background animation. Wonderful stuff.
Superstar commercials director Jonathan
Glazer returns to the fold at DDB London to helm this stunning spot for Volkswagen. The ad features world Tango champion Gasper Godoy and his partner Manuella Rossi,
also the world #2. The music is 'Don't Stop' by Roc C.
Another week, another ad of the week from RKCR/Y&R,
who seem to be churning out one great ad after another at the moment. Their new spot for Land Rover offers an almost
hallucinatory world of pleasure constructed from clay. How about that bit where the guy morphs into a moose? Lovely, but also just
a little scary....
And finally, US talkshow host Conan O'Brien
launched his new cable chat show this week (for more on this see below). Just one of things he's been up to over the past nine
months off-air is making this great ad, another in the long-running series from Ogilvy New York, in which celebrities are
persuaded to play up to or against expectations to illustrate the advantages of being an American Express cardholder.
A few other ads just missed the final cut,
including McCann Madrid's festive global spot for Coca-Cola, a witty print campaign from Grabarz & Co for
Ikea in Germany, DDB Canada's high-speed flickbook for Subaru, Publicis Mojo's celebration of male
primitivism for Speight's beer, and a charming spot from McCann Paris to launch Nestle's Special.T tea-making
system in France. Come
and see them here on our Facebook page.
In the news this past week: Brands &
The UK Government is considering plans to
replace the state-controlled marketing body COI with a private organisation along similar lines to the US Ad Council. According to
Brand Republic, this is one of a number of options under review in order to reduce the cost burden on British taxpayers from
government advertising. Another is a switch from commission-based payments to agencies to a performance-related system. COI's
marketing budget has already been slashed dramatically by the new administration. Although
the US Government still funds advertising in areas such as defense, drug control and security, most other public service messages
are coordinated by the Ad Council, an independent not-for-profit company, on behalf of other charitable bodies. Unlike the UK, where this sort of advertising is still
generally paid for with hard cash, American advertising agencies customarily donate their time "pro bono" and airtime is provided
free of charge by mediaowners. A move in this direction would no doubt be welcomed by British charities who, like the Government, also currently
pay for much of their advertising, albeit often at discounted rates. By contrast, much of the US marketing for causes such as
children's issues, homelessness, preventative health
and disability awareness - all of which have to be paid for in the UK - is also donated and coordinated by the Ad Council.
Kraft clashed swords after the coffee bar giant announced its intention to terminate their longstanding partnership. For more
than a decade, Kraft has held the license to sell Starbucks-branded packaged coffee through North American grocery retail
channels. Buoyed up by the apparent success of its Via instant product (which is distributed by a
different and very much smaller partner), Starbucks now wants to take back control of the main packaged coffee business as well.
Kraft issued a frosty public statement reminding its erstwhile pal that the distribution contract is "perpetual" and
that it would expect to receive payment of "the fair market value of the business plus... a
premium" should Seattle choose to pursue a dissolution. Kraft told analysts the business was currently worth around $500m a
year. Starbucks' decision followed a strong improvement in performance
after a couple of dismal years. Total revenues for the year ended September 2010 rose almost 10% to a record $10.7bn, helped along
by a 7% increase in comparable US store sales. (That compared to a 6% decline during 2009). The final quarter delivered a particularly
impressive 15% lift in US sales, and 21% from international outlets. Net income for the year leapt 142% to $946m.
Elsewhere in the food industry, Nestle is one of several potential buyers
said to be evaluating the purchase of a 50% stake in global dairy brand Yoplait. Currently the business is jointly owned by French dairy cooperative Sodiaal
and private equity group PAI Partners, and then licensed out to local producers around the globe. PAI is expected to put its
shares up for auction later this month. Nestle is considered one of the favourites to bid, largely because it is sitting on a massive cash pile
generated by its sale of Alcon earlier in the year.
Other potential buyers include General Mills, the US licenseholder for Yoplait, and French group Lactalis. All three companies are
already connected: Nestle and General Mills have a worldwide joint venture to market cereals; while Nestle and Lactalis are partners in a chilled dairy joint venture in Europe.
The Wall Street Journal reported on early stage discussions between
Danone and Japanese
beverage group Kirin over the possible transfer of the French group's global bottled water business. Kirin is already Danone's local
partner in Japan for distribution of Evian and Volvic and is keen to broaden its international coverage. Its rivals Asahi
Breweries and Suntory are also known to be hungry for international assets than would expand their worldwide presence. However Danone is
unlikely to part with the water business unless offered an exceptional deal.
A US court rejected the claim by private equity
group Terra Firma that it had been duped by Citigroup over negotiations to acquire struggling music major EMI. Terra
Firma's principal Guy Hands claims that Citi falsely encouraged him to believe that a rival fund was negotiating to buy the business, with
the result that he paid a higher price than necessary for EMI. Since then, the record company's performance has slumped - largely
as a result of a badly managed restructuring which alienated many of its most important artists - and it is poised on the
precipice of a default on the money it borrowed from Citi to fund the deal, a sum now approaching $5bn. Default would allow Citi
to seize control of EMI and sell it on, most probably to another client, Warner Music. This year, Hands was able to persuade his investors to cough up another GBP 100m of capital to ward off that threat. The court's ruling, however, will make it much
harder for Terra Firma to repeat that trick next March, when another potential default looms. As the Financial Times
commented, "Mr Hands' error in going to court extended beyond the fact that his case was thin, for it also made him look incompetent.
Investors had placed money with him to make his own judgments on which companies to buy, and at what price, not to depend on
getting information about rival bidders."
Unilever reported strong quarterly results, with
3Q revenues jumping by 13.2% to €11.5bn on strong growth in emerging markets. The organic increase, stripping out currency
fluctuation and acquisitions, held firm at 3.6%, the same as the previous quarter. However profits for the quarter jumped 24% to
E1.75bn, as a result of pricing increases and cost-cutting. The improvement in sales was in line with other packaged goods groups.
P&G reported a similar organic increase in revenues for the quarter, but only a 2% rise in like-for-like earnings because of
rising commodity costs.
Adidas announced a bold set of targets for
future growth. Encouraged by a 20% increase in 3Q reported revenues (10% excluding currency fluctuation) in the wake of the 2010
World Cup, the company vowed to increase annual revenues by up to 50% over the next five years, reaching
E17bn by 2015. Group sales for full year 2010 are expected to weigh in a t
around €11.5bn. Adidas also set itself the goal of establishing its secondary brand Reebok as the leading name in fitness and training.
That task would have seemed all but impossible two years ago, but Reebok's performance has improved dramatically as a result of
its launch of EasyTone firming trainers.
The slow but steady breakup of packaged foods conglomerate
Sara Lee Corporation continued. This week, the group
announced plans to sell its substantial fresh bakery business in North America to Mexicos' Grupo Bimbo. The sale includes more than
40 bakery plants spread across the country, as well as a license to market fresh bread under the Sara Lee name. The company will
keep hold of the heritage frozen cheesecake and poundcake unit from which its name originates. Price tag on the sale is $959m.
Sara Lee Fresh Bakery generated sales of $2.1bn in its most recent financial year.
General Motors reported its best
quarterly results since all but imploding last year. For 3Q the recovering giant reported net profit of $2bn, bringing its total
profit for the last nine months to $4.1bn. Revenues for the quarter hit $34.06bn, compared to $25.2bn last year. That's an
impressive comeback, but the group still lags behind arch-rival Ford, which has earned $6.4bn in the year to-date. However,
GM's most encouraging stat is the bounce in margins. The company made an average profit of $3,005 on every vehicle it made in
North America during 3Q. That was well ahead of its main rivals. Ford averaged a profit of $2,710 per vehicle, while Chrysler
made just $593.
Amazon continued it s push into new markets through acquisition, agreeing to pay $545m for
largest US online retailer of diapers (or nappies), and other baby products. The price tag is equivalent to close to twice
Diapers.com's forecast revenues this year. That deal follows the ecommerce giant's acquisition last year of shoe and accessories retailer
Zappos for $1.1bn.
There was no pause in the soaring growth of UK discount clothing retailer
Primark. Revenues for the year ending
September 2010 jumped by 18% to GBP 2.7bn, while operating profits before exceptionals leapt almost 36% to GBP 352m, despite the
steep rise in the price of cotton. The group is now the UK's biggest clothing retailer by volumes.
Steve Easterbrook, the former head of McDonald's UK who transferred to a US-based role as chief global brand
officer earlier this year, is on the move again. Following the resignation of McDonalds Europe head Denis Hennequin, Easterbrook
is heading back across the Atlantic to become regional chief.
General Motors' UK
auto division Vauxhall was reported to be in exclusive talks to succeed Nationwide Building Society as the lead sponsor of
the England football team.
The Canadian media were in fine voice this
week, celebrating the selection of their nation as the world's top country brand for the first time, in this year's Country Brand Index
compiled by Interpublic's FutureBrand. Last year's #1, the US, was relegated to the #4 position behind past victor Australia, in 2nd
place, and New Zealand at #3. Rounding out the top 10 were Switzerland, Japan, France, Finland, the UK and Sweden. Now in its 6th
year, the CBI is compiled from a survey of around 3,400 business and leisure travellers across five continents. Individual countries are ranked in
numerous different categories in areas such as tourism appeal, quality of life and value systems. Canada's rise
to the top spot is largely the result of its extremely successful hosting of this year's Winter Olympics, while the
fall from grace by the US was blamed by FutureBrand chief strategy officer Daniel Rosentreter on the backlash from last year's 'Obama Effect'". "What we've seen this year," he said, "is the shine may be off. Obama hasn't delivered
what the world expected."
In the news this past week: Agencies
Crispin Porter & Bogusky scored something
of a coup this week by poaching TBWA's global strategy officer Suzanne Powers. She will take up the same role in a new CPB office
in New York, and will be responsible for developing the fast-expanding agency's worldwide presence. In a statement she said,
"In this role, I'm lucky enough to get to work with an extremely talented group of people to take one of the most iconic
agency brands and help that brand travel in a way that will unleash creativity and ideas across borders."
Everyone's going to Brazil. Latest ad brand to
carve out a corner in this fast-expanding market is Wieden & Kennedy, which has opened its newest outpost in Sao Paulo.
W&K have poached Brazilian creative director Icaro Doria from Goodby Silverstein in San Francisco and Andre Gustavo Soares
from the local Saatchi office to run the new shop.
It was a case of win-some, lose-some for Draftfcb.
The German trade press
announced a decision by Beiersdorf to consolidate global advertising for its flagship Nivea brand with the network. That business
has been split for the past 20 years or so between Draftcb (and before that FCB) and TBWA. The latter is expected to remain on the Beiersdorf roster,
but in a much smaller role. However, at the same time, Draftfcb also suffered the loss of four more accounts from another
key client, Kraft. Jello-O moves to Crispin Porter Bogusky, and Cool Whip to The Martin Agency.
Steak sauces A1 and Bull's Eye are also leaving Draftfcb, but their new home has yet to be named.
In other account assignments, Mindshare
was reappointed as the global media agency for German airline Lufthansa after a review; Nestle charged Publicis with
launching its Maggi culinary brand in the UK; and Fallon London resigned its place on the Innocent roster after being more or less sidelined to the smoothie
manufacturer's fruit juice and veg pot business. The main smoothie account was recently awarded to RKCR/Y&R. For all appointments, subscribers can access the
full Adbrands Account Assignments database here.
In the news this past
Perhaps acknowledging the scale of the task
ahead if it remains independent, AOL has formally appointed financial advisors to explore strategic options, the phrase often
employed when a business puts itself up for sale. High on the list of these opportunities will be a potential merger with - or more
likely sale to - that other dinosaur from the first internet boom, Yahoo. However, these days, there's quite a difference between the two
companies, at least financially. Based on closing share prices last Friday, AOL has a current market capitalisation of
around $2.7bn, while Yahoo's - even after all its own well-publicised troubles - is almost ten times higher at almost $21.9bn.
Research from ComScore suggests a similar imbalance between the two sites' users. In simple terms, most AOL users are already
regular users of Yahoo (but not vice versa). ComScore estimated that, on the basis of September 2010 figures, the bolt-on of AOL's
users would only increase Yahoo's audience by about 10%, a very modest figure. That leaves Yahoo with very little
incentive to do any sort of big financial deal for AOL.
Talkshow host Conan O'Brien made a
triumphant return to American TV screens this week with the launch of his long-awaited show on Time Warner's TBS cable
channel. O'Brien was very publicly ousted from NBC's flagship Late Show at the beginning of the year after a row with the network
over scheduling conflicts with his predecessor and stablemate Jay Leno. One condition of his departure from NBC was that he was
barred from launching a new vehicle until now, and his new show poked plenty of fun at how he has filled his time over the past
nine months as well as his supposed demotion from network TV to the "wastelands" of cable. A long and entertaining
opening sketch portrayed him as accepting an offer from basic cable only after he has lost interim jobs as a children's
entertainer and as a server in Burger King. "I've dreamed of being a talk-show host on basic cable ever since I was 46,"
he joked on-air. In truth of course, the once-derided world of cable TV is rapidly developing a reputation - and even sometimes an
audience - to match the main networks. O'Brien's debut on Monday night actually attracted more viewers than either his former
sparring partner Jay Leno, now back in the Late Show seat at NBC, or CBS rival David Letterman. O'Brien won around 4.2m viewers,
compared to 3.5m for Leno and 3.4m for Letterman. He also crucified cable competitors Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, whose
ratings on Comedy Central dropped by 20% to 1.3m and 1m respectively.
Web-based video-on-demand service Hulu
released some preliminary financial details as the prelude to an IPO, expected early next year. Addressing a media conference, CEO
Jason Kilar revealed that Hulu's revenues for 2010 were likely to hit $240m, up from $108m last year, and that the service
attracted 30m users during October and served 800m video ads. Hulu's main rival YouTube is expected to generate around
$500m in revenues this year, and has an audience of around 140m users a month.
Cathleen Black, former president of Hearst
Magazines, is to leave the industry to take up a new role as chancellor of New York City Schools, reporting to Mayor Michael
Bloomberg. Black stepped down from the president's role at Hearst earlier this year, becoming chairwoman. In her new role she is
once again setting precedent, becoming the first woman to head the nation's largest school system. Previously, she was the first
woman to lead Hearst Corporation's magazine division in and in 1979 was the first female publisher of a weekly consumer magazine,
when she took the helm at New York. Her predecessor as schools chancellor, the attorney Joel Klein, is joining News Corporation
as EVP and special advisor to Rupert Murdoch.
Satellite broadcaster Sky has hit its January
2011 target of 10m subscribers almost two months ahead of schedule. It originally set itself that goal in August 2004
when it had only 7.4m subscribers. At the same time, Vince Cable, the UK Government's secretary for business, has intervened in
News Corporation's proposed full takeover of Sky, referring the deal to the country's broadcast regulator for investigation. That
could delay News Corp's plans by as long as a year at best, or block them altogether.
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