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We're turning over a new leaf for our pick of Ads of the Week for
2010. Yes Sir-ee. No more dumb jokes, lightly clothed girls, fart gags. Nope. Not here, Jack. For our New Year's
Resolution we're going serious with knowledge. Issues. Public service announcements. Health warnings. First up is a
wonderful spot from Minneapolis indie agency Clarity Coverdale Fury for ClearWay, a Minnesota
state-sponsored scheme to persuade smokers to quit. I'm guessing that for the actors involved, shooting this spot might
have been a little like hell - I'd love to see the outtakes - but the end results are just spectacular. You guys all
deserve an Oscar. And you humans as well.
Independent agency Three Drunk Monkeys is behind a series of
attention-grabbing animated spots for the BBC Knowledge cable strand in Australia. These kicked off last summer
and have got better and better. This new ad, featuring a voiceover from actor Richard E Grant, is the best so far,
clever, entertaining and above all informative. I guarantee you will remember at least two of these facts next week.
BeatBullying is not a government initiative but an independent
charity which campaigns against bullying in schools and local communities by encouraging kids to look out for each other
as "Cyber Mentors". It's admirable work, and the organisation launched its biggest marketing campaign
to-date this week with this startling and disturbing ad from M&C Saatchi. Sadly the campaign has been
classified as too shocking for TV broadcast, but is rolling out online with support from YouTube as well as in British
cinemas. An excellent initiative. For more see BeatBullying's website.
And finally... You know what, getting serious is all well and fine,
but there aren't many laughs in it. Now I'm just depressed. Oh well, New Year's Resolutions are only there to be
broken... We'll try again next year. In the mean time, here are some dumb jokes. As you may remember from last year, job
site CareerBuilder split with agency Wieden & Kennedy and put out a call to the public to suggest ideas for
their next Super Bowl campaign. They were deluged with suggestions, from which three were picked and remade
professionally. One will feature during the Super Bowl on Feb 7th. Sadly it won't be this one, suggested by Brian
Forrest, which was deemed too hot for broadcast. I urge you to have a look at the other two as well (see them here)
and you might find it interesting to check out the originally user submitted versions of all three, available here.
In the news this past week:
Brands & Advertisers
General Motors began the process of winding down Saab,
dismissing its CEO and board and appointing liquidators. However it is simultaneously continuing talks with several
potential buyers, although GM Europe chief Nick Reilly noted that "The longer this
carries on ... the more difficult it is for someone to buy [the business]." The newest bidder is Formula 1
boss Bernie Ecclestone, who issued an 11th hour bid for the business late last week with backing from a little-known
investment fund based in Luxembourg. GM is also still in contact with Dutch company Spyker, and with a Swedish
consortium. However, the auto giant warned that it would not agree any deal unless it feels certain that the buyer is
committed for the long term "We have a large carpark of owners around the world which we have to support and we
want to support," said Reilly. "If any company comes along that [either] quickly or in a year or two decides
they cannot make a go of it, then that will come back to us. We need to know that there will be a company to continue
producing components. We look at our responsibility to consumers a least on a ten-year basis and so if we sell [Saab] to
somebody who really doesn't have a viable business case, it will hurt our consumers and it will hurt us long term."
GM is also expected to confirm this week a merger of the previously separate Opel and Vauxhall management
teams to create a single unified structure.
Heineken agreed to acquire the brewery division of Mexican
group FEMSA for $5.5bn in stock. That news followed hot on the heels of an earlier announcement that rival bidder
SAB Miller, previously considered the favourite to secure the Mexican company, had pulled out of talks. Heineken already
handles US distribution of FEMSA's beer brands, including Tecate and Dos Equis, and the deal also includes FEMSA's
Brazilian subsidiary Kaiser, in which Heineken is already the minority partner. The Mexican group is cutting loose its
brewery business to concentrate on higher margin soft drinks and convenience store retailing. It will end up with a 20%
holding in the Heineken group, making it the second largest shareholder after the founding family.
The battle for Cadbury continues. The confectionery company
issued a robust defence of the merits of remaining independent, and launched a stinging attack on the performance record
of hostile bidder Kraft. Releasing strong performance figures for 2009, Cadbury's chairman Roger Carr said:
"This company is in very good health... there is no reason to be owned by anyone else at all, unless they pay a
very large premium." Meanwhile, the chances of a "white knight" bid emerging from Ferrero of Italy
appeared to recede. Although the Italian company had successfully lined up funding for a potential offer, disagreement
remained among members of the Ferrero family over the merits of such a move. This morning, Ferrero was reported to have
abandoned plans to make a formal bid. Hershey, however, is thought to be pressing ahead with a solo offer.
Cadbury has already indicated that it would prefer to be aligned in a partnership with the American confectioner than
with Kraft's more diversified portfolio. But Hershey would still need to raise its offer price beyond that of Kraft, and
that will prove quite a stretch. Our guess? That Cadbury manages to stay independent, but only by a whisker.
McDonalds shuffled its senior management team, with Don
Thompson, previously head of the fast feeder's US business, stepping up to become worldwide president & COO. He
replaces Ralph Alvarez, who retired last month. Thompson is in turn replaced as head of the US business by Jan Fields.
Over at troubled banking giant Citigroup, Terri Dial was removed as head of retail banking arm Citibank North America
and replaced with Manuel Medina Mora, also chief of the group's Latin American operations.
Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Money took a firm step forward
into traditional banking in the UK with the acquisition of a small regional bank, Church House Trust, for £50m. The
group plans to use its new purchase, which already has a banking license, as the platform to launch online deposit
accounts and mortgages. Virgin Money already offers credit cards, insurance and various investment products. It could
ultimately move into high street banking as well. Several branch networks are expected to come up for sale over the
coming year, either through the government's sell-off of Northern Rock or the forced divestment of outlets by RBS and
Meanwhile Spanish bank Santander kicked off the rebranding
campaign for its three British banking businesses of Abbey, Bradford & Bingley and Alliance & Leicester. All
three are adopting the main Santander name. Group chairman Emilio Botin said he too will be looking to buy additional
outlets and vowed to establish Santander as the UK's #1 bank.
The UK arm of mobile network Orange has teamed up with Barclays
to launch a co-branded contactless credit card. Customers can get updates on their card balance via text message and
earn reward points for spending. Payments can be made via MasterCard's PayPass contactless technology in selected
outlets. The tie-up follows in the wake of a similar partnership between O2 and NatWest launched last year under the O2
Ownership of Britain's biggest and best-known estate agency Foxtons
has been transferred to Bank of America and Mizuho, the two banks which funded an ill-timed private equity buyout of the
company just before the credit crunch caused property prices to plunge. Investment fund BC Partners acquired the
business in 2007, paying founder Jon Hunt around £360m, mainly sourced from American and Japanese lenders and loaded
onto the balance sheet as debt. However the collapse of the property market left Foxtons struggling to meet its interest
payments. Under the new arrangement, the two banks will assume around 60% of Foxtons' equity in return for reducing
debts by two-thirds. BC Partners and the Foxtons management team will each hold around 20%. Elsewhere, another group of
banks led by RBS took control of UK fashion chain Jane Norman, previously a unit of collapsed Icelandic
investment fund Baugur, in an arrangement to reduce its debt burden of £136m.
Strong performance over the Christmas period boosted British retail
chain New Look into the #2 spot in the UK women's wear market behind Marks & Spencer, and ahead of Next.
Privately owned New Look is widely expected to return to the stock market later this year though an IPO.
In the news this past week:
The Big Won, the annual ranking of advertising excellence,
published its tables of 2009's most awarded agencies and individuals. In the Networks table, the results were broadly in
line with that other awards compilation The Gunn Report: BBDO Worldwide took top place, followed by DDB, Ogilvy
and Leo Burnett. The Big Won's table of top Agencies was a little different though. Top place here went to Almap
BBDO of Brazil, with DDB London in second place. (Gunn had the two shops reversed - each scheme applies
different scores when counting the value of individual awards won during the year). In 3rd, 4th and 5th place, The Big
Won has BBDO NY, AMV BBDO and DDB Berlin for an Omnicom clean sweep, whereas Gunn listed Goodby
Silverstein, Dentsu and Del Campo Nazca Saatchi Argentina. For more details, including leading art directors, creative
directors and campaigns, see here.
Publicis Groupe has begun consolidating its twin digital networks
of Digitas and Razorfish, following completion of the latter purchase at the end of last year. Although
the group says it will continue to maintain the twin brands, that dual existence could be in name alone, if this week's
developments in Australia are anything to go by. The Digitas office in Australia has been reduced to a single employee,
account director Gareth Pask, and all work for local clients will be executed instead by staff from Amnesia Razorfish.
In account assignments, GM confirmed Bartle Bogle Hegarty New
York as the new agency for its premium Cadillac brand. Mitsubishi Motors called a review of North
American creative, out of indie Traffic. Insurer AFLAC, best-known Stateside for its long-running duck mascot,
called a review of its business out of Kaplan Thaler. It plans to keep the duck. In Europe, denim marketer Diesel
placed regional creative with the London office of Anomaly, already established as one of the new year's hottest
creative boutiques following its capture of Sony Europe. Deutsche Bank appointed Carat to pan-European
media, replacing MediaCom. Carlsberg reappointed OMD. Fiat shifted media in several markets including the
UK from Mediaedge:cia to Maxus. For all other appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account
Assignments database here.
In the news this past
Google threatened to suspend all business operations in
China after it identified a series of cyber attacks on its corporate infrastructure during December originating from
that country and thought to have been sponsored or at least endorsed by the government. The internet giant said the
attacks had resulted in the theft of intellectual property and also stated that there was evidence to
suggest that a primary goal of the attackers had been to access Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human rights
activists. As a result, Google said it had informed the Chinese government of its plans to remove all censorship filters
from its search results. These filters were imposed by Google four years ago, at the insistence of the government, to
block results deemed politically sensitive. In return, Google was granted permission to establish a local presence in
China. Yet the company has long agonised over that compromise, and removal of the filters is likely to prompt the
government to throw Google out. Ironically, the news that Google had threatened to quit China was reported in almost
every around the globe except China itself, where the story was given minimal prominence and also heavily censored to
remove any references to free speech or government surveillance. The financial implications for Google of pulling out of
the vast Chinese market are minimal - it accounts for only a tiny proportion of revenues - but could be a dangerous step
strategically. The country is one of very few where Google doesn't dominate the online marketplace: it ranks second in
local search well behind local company Baidu, which appears to have no such qualms about state censorship.
Meanwhile in France, the Sarkozy administration is considering
plans to levy a tax on the local advertising revenues of international internet companies, primarily Google, but
also Microsoft and Yahoo. The funds generated by the scheme would be used to bankroll worthy
internet-related causes. One possibility already under discussion is the creation of a government-subsidised music
service that would allow users to download tracks for free in a bid to wean them off pirate suppliers. That plan already
has the support of President Sarkozy's wife, the musician Carla Bruni. The government is also threatening to bar Google
from a deal struck last year with France's national library association to digitise the country's extensive book
collection unless the technology giant drops its demands for exclusivity.
Lastly regarding Google, the company appointed Torrence
Boone, former CEO of WPP's disbanded Dell agency Enfatico as its new manager of agency development for North America.
AOL, now an independent company once more almost exactly ten
years after its disastrous merger with Time Warner, has begun closing local offices throughout Europe as it attempts to
slash costs. Its outposts in Finland, Germany, Spain and Sweden are all being shuttered, and most of the rest, including
the UK and France, are being scaled down significantly. The group has already set a target of reducing its global
workforce by a third.
British media group Time Out also launched a round of
redundancies following publication of its 2008 financial results, which showed a steep increase in losses. Declines in
advertising and newsstand circulation resulted in a £3m loss for the year to December 2008, more than double the
previous year's figure. According to a report in London's Evening Standard newspaper, founder-owner Tony Elliott will
inject £3m of his own money into the business by June in order to maintain the company as a "going concern".
Nevertheless, Elliott told the paper that the group made a profit in 2009 and that 2010 also looks promising.
Several media celebrities hit the headlines this week as key TV
pundits on both sides of the Atlantic considered (or were forced to consider) new pastures. In the UK, the BBC's
best-paid presenter Jonathan Ross said he would not renegotiate his £6m a year contract with the Corporation
when it expires in July this year. Although Ross claimed to have taken the decision himself, there were some suggestions
in the media that the decision to leave the BBC may have been mutual. In the US, Simon Cowell said he would be
departing American Idol at the end of the current season in order to launch a local version of his own rival format The
X Factor, already a huge hit in Europe.
Also in the US, NBC conceded defeat in its disastrous attempt to
shake-up its late night schedules, centred around the Tonight Show, a long-established nightly fixture at 11.30pm
following the news. Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno has struggled to win viewers in a new vehicle going out at
10pm, while his successor Conan O'Brien has been unable to stop the Tonight Show falling behind cross-channel
rival David Letterman on CBS. NBC said this week that Leno's show would be shortened to half-an-hour and moved to
11.35pm, before The Tonight Show in a new slot at 12:05. After several days of consideration of the prospect of
following Leno instead of the news, Conan O'Brien broke his silence this week. Trade bible Variety summed up his
response to NBC with typical bluntness: "Drop dead". O'Brien's statement said "I sincerely believe that
delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider
to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting. The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn't the Tonight
Show." He would not, he said "participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction". Rival
network Fox is thought to have made its own handsome offer to O'Brien in an attempt to persuade him to jump ship from
the Peacock network. Perhaps he could team up with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who made her
own debut on Fox News this week as a pundit and by most accounts acquitted herself quite well, without making any
serious gaffes. Better still, maybe Sarah Palin could replace Simon Cowell as the lead judge on Idol. Now that would be
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