Adbrands Weekly Update 18th November 2010
A weekly round up of key news about 
leading advertisers, agencies and mediaowners
 
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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: 

Sony Playstation "Victor"
by Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi Buenos Aires

Activision Blizzard "There's A Soldier In All Of Us"
by TBWA\New York

DirecTV "Robots"
by Grey New York

Foster's Group Pure Blonde "Pardon"
by Clemenger BBDO Australia

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

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A bit quiet on the great new ads front this week, but we've managed to rustle up four good 'uns for you. The oddest is undoubtedly this spot from Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi in Buenos Aires, which is responsible for launching the Sony Playstation 3 in Latin America. (Better late than never, eh?). Being "young at heart" is one thing; a grown man with a baby's head is quite another. Arresting nonetheless. Possibly in both senses of the word.

And on the subject of gaming, it's been hard to escape the media frenzy over the launch of Call Of Duty: Black Ops (more on this below). Here's one of the launch spots by TBWA\New York, which offers a clever and entertaining insight into the underlying appeal of shoot 'em ups. There are guest appearances from basketball star Kobe Bryant and chat show host Jimmy Kimmel, alongside assorted ordinary Joes and Janes who get their vicarious thrills from blowing away the bad guys.

Grey New York are obviously intent on ousting Deutsch as the long-time incumbents on the DirecTV account with this striking ad for the US satellite broadcaster's rather cool whole-home DVR service. Great effects, and a nice ad, though somewhat reminiscent of a similar spot executed a few years ago (by WCRS?) for Sky in the UK, where a guy freezes an extreme action movie sequence taking place in the middle of his sitting room while he pops out to the toilet.

And finally, you must know by now how much we love Australian beer ads. Here's the new spot by Clemenger BBDO for Foster's Group's Pure Blonde, in which we make a long awaited return to the magical land of Brewtopia. Wonderful! In case you never saw it, here's the original Brewtopia spot from a few years back.

A few other ads just missed the final cut. Come and see them here on our Facebook page.


In the news this past week: Brands & Advertisers

Disney reported significantly improved performance for its most recent financial year, which ended in October. Group revenues rose 5% to $38.1bn and net income jumped 20% to just under $4.0bn. Key contributors were the enormous success of Alice In Wonderland and Toy Story, almost certain to end up as the two most successful movies of 2010, and strong results from the consumer products group on the back of Marvel and Toy Story merchandise. There was also continuing steady growth from the group's media division, especially its cable networks ESPN and Disney Channel, together the group's single most profitable business. At the same time, Disney kicked off a concerted PR campaign d esigned to ensure that members of the American Academy of Motion Pictures & Arts select Toy Story 3 as overall Best Picture at next year's Oscars. No animated movie has ever taken that prize, although Beauty & The Beast and Up were both nominated in past years.

Strong demand from investors has almost certainly made General Motors' IPO, which kicked off last night, the biggest in US history. The price range was lifted from an initial target of $26-$29 per share to $33 and could go higher when secondary trading begins today. Advance interest in the float prompted the US Treasury to release more of its own stock, with the result that its stake has reduced from 61% to around 26%. It could sell the remaining shares early next year. Chinese car giant SAIC is thought to have snapped up around $500m of shares, equivalent to a 1% holding, and sovereign wealth funds from the Arabian Gulf have had also been planning large purchases. In total, GM is expected to raise around $23bn from the sale of common and preferred stock by the end of the week, beating Visa's $19.7bn sale in 2008 to the #1 spot.

Meanwhile, in its first such pan-European partnership arrangement, General Motors signed up the British-based pop jazz singer Katie Melua as brand ambassador in Europe for its soon-to-launch Ampera electric car. GM's Opel and Vauxhall brands will sponsor Melua's 2011 European tour, and the singer will play a leading role in the Ampera launch next Autumn. German singer Lena Meyer-Landrut already serves as Opel brand ambassador in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Unilever suffered a partial reverse in its deal to acquire a portfolio of bodycare products in Europe from Sara Lee. European competition regulators gave only conditional approval for the E1.3bn deal, ordering Unilever to sell on the Sanex brand by this time next year to avoid a monopoly in deodorant products. Unilever already owns the Rexona and Dove deodorant brands. Sanex is thought to account for around a fifth of the value of the combined portfolio, which also includes Radox, Badedas and other brands.

Software giant Activision Blizzard set a new record for global sales with the release of Call Of Duty: Black Ops. That game, the latest installment in a long-running franchise, generated an extraordinary $360m in its first 24 hours on-sale in the US and UK. That beat the record set by its predecessor Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which took $310m. By way of comparison, the movie Avatar took only $242m in its opening weekend. Black Ops is expected to generate total sales of more than $1bn over the whole holiday period. Meanwhile, sales of Microsoft's Kinect motion gaming accessory for the Xbox also seem to be going well with more than 1m units sold since launch at the beginning of the month. The device allows people to play games using physical movements and voice commands instead of a handheld controller. 

Also this week, Viacom put its own software subsidiary Harmonix, which makes the Rock Band game franchise, up for sale and wrote off $260m in impairment charges against the business. Group CEO Philippe Daumann acknowledged defeat in the gaming sector, telling analysts "The console games business requires an expertise and scale that we don't have." Harmonix was the original developer of the hugely successful Guitar Hero games franchise. Viacom acquired the business in 2006, with the idea that it would be an ideal partner for the MTV cable division. However, Harmonix was obliged to surrender the Guitar Hero concept to Activision, and its own follow-up Rock Band failed to capture the other game's popularity, despite scoring a substantial coup when it negotiated a license to incorporate music from The Beatles in the game in 2008. However sales of Rock Band (and indeed of Guitar Hero as well) have plunged this year, dragging down performance in Viacom's media networks business despite a sharp rise in viewing figures for MTV, which is riding high on the success of the Jersey Shore reality show. 

There were rumours of break-up surrounding two mid-size drinks groups. Remy Cointreau confirmed that it will consider offers for its champagne business, comprising the Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck brands. Sales in that division plunged during 2009, although there was a modest recovery in the first half of this year. Separately, US group Fortune Brands, which owns the Beam Global spirits business as well as various golf and home hardware businesses, is also under pressure from an activist shareholder to break itself up. Diageo, Pernod-Ricard and Bacardi would be among the interested suitors in a sell-off of the spirits brands, which include Jim Beam and Courvoisier. Gruppo Campari recently announced that it too is in the market for potential acquisitions in the E300m to E400m range.

French retail group Casino secured the deal to acquire a portfolio of 40 supermarkets in Thailand from rival Carrefour, which is quitting the country. Casino will pay E868m for the estate, which strengthens its position as the country's second largest retailer behind UK-based Tesco. Carrefour had also been trying to sell its outlets in Malaysia and Singapore, but today cancelled that auction for lack of a high-enough bid. It will hold onto the business.

Privately owned German food group Dr Oetker sold its Onken yoghurt business to Swiss dairy company Emmi for an undisclosed sum. It had owned the business since 2004. Instead, Oetker announced its intention to concentrate on its main desserts and frozen pizza business.

Almost all mediaowners have enjoyed a bounceback in advertising expenditure over the past quarter, but nowhere has the recovery been more pronounced than in digital. After slumping dramatically last year, the online sector turned in another stunning performance for 3Q 2010 according to figures from the US IAB and PWC. Between July and September, digital spend jumped 17% over the same period last year to a record $6.4bn.


In the news this past week: Agencies

The Financial Times reported on a flurry of excitement at Morgan Stanley's technology, media and telecoms conference in Barcelona yesterday when Aegis CEO Jerry Buhlmann and his Havas counterpart Fernando Roses Vila both failed to turn up as expected, citing air traffic control problems. "That must mean they are announcing a deal tomorrow morning," announced WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell. Indeed, a marriage between Aegis and Havas has been anticipated as eagerly and for as long as that between our very own Prince William and Kate Middleton. So perhaps the timing is right this week...

Canadian marketing group Cossette unveiled a complete overhaul of its corporate structure under a newly created parent entity, to be named Vision 7 International, led by group chairman & CEO Claude Lessard. The group's core business in Canada will continue to operate under the Cossette name, but all international operations, including Dare and Band & Brown in the UK and several units in the US, will form part of a new division named Esprit de Corps Communications, or EdC. "We wanted to have a structure that would really focus on our people and clients here in Canada," said Lessard. "Then also have this second element where we could be a lot more aggressive from an international perspective with a different set of managers. It will make our group very successful with these two different strategies."

Meanwhile in the UK, the group confirmed the management team for the new Dare entity, formed from the merger of the old Dare digital shop with traditional advertising agency MCBD. The latter's last remaining founder Helen Calcraft becomes executive chairman of Dare, while Dare's founder Mark Collier was named group chairman of EdC, working with divisional CEO Gregor Angus. Old Dare's joint managing directors John Owen and Lee Leggett become deputy chairman and chief executive respectively. The two agencies' creative chiefs Flo Heiss and Danny Brooke-Taylor become joint executive creative directors. EdC also said that it would begin rolling out the Dare model to other markets, starting in Vancouver, Canada, where Cossette's Fjord digital shop and regional Cossette West agency will also merged under the Dare name.

In fact it was generally a week for agency mergers, and especially those which involved the creation of integrated units out of traditional advertising agencies and their digital counterparts. In Germany, BBDO Worldwide announced the merger of the main BBDO-branded agency with the local arm of below-the-line network Proximity to form a single integrated business under the name BBDO Proximity. That follows a similar marriage earlier this year of stablemate DDB and Tribal DDB to create DDB Tribal. Frank Lotze, appointed as group CEO of BBDO earlier this year, retains that role in the merged entity, with Proximity chief Michael Schipper becoming COO. 

Meanwhile in Paris, Publicis announced the combination of its standalone digital shop Publicis.Net with creative boutique Marcel to form a "turbo-charged digital boutique". It will keep the Marcel name, in homage to Publicis founder Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. Marcel was originally was created in 2005, initially as a vehicle for the creative team Fred & Farid. Publicis.Net on the other hand was is one of the group's oldest digital businesses, tracing its roots back to the 1970s and the creation of multimedia company SGIP. It later rebranded as Publicis Technology, before becoming Publicis Networks in 2000, and more recently Publicis net. 

Robin Wight, the colourful co-founder of UK ad agency WCRS, has resigned as director and co-CEO of parent group Engine, although he retains a part-time role as group president. Debbie Klein becomes sole CEO of Engine Group UK, with oversight of WCRS as well as a collection of other units including CRM agency Partners Andrews Aldridge and brand consultancy Dave. Meanwhile, Leo Burnett London filled its vacant role of executive creative director by poaching Justin Tindall, creative partner over at The Red Brick Road. He replaces Jonathan Burley who shifted to CHI earlier this year.

Meanwhile in New York, Linus Karlsson resigned as joint managing partner of Mother's local outpost, dissolving a 20-year partnership with Paul Malmstrom, who remains the agency's ECD. Karlsson is said to be joining another, as yet unnamed agency. Mother founder Robert Saville told Creativity magazine "The industry always seems to turn to Mother when they're looking for creative leadership. If only we could get a recruiting fee..."

In account assignments, Reckitt Benckiser shifted global creative for its newly acquired Durex and Scholl brands from McCann to house agency Euro RSCG. Diageo consolidated CRM marketing for all UK brands with Tullo Marshall Warren. RPM will handle promotions and experiential. US independent Doner picked up a much needed slice of new business in the form of the dealership accounts for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep. It is also in the running for Chrysler's main creative account, recently resigned by Fallon. Harley-Davidson appointed boutique Victors & Spoils to replace longtime partner Carmichael Lynch; Starcom and Digitas join the fold for media and digital. For all appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account Assignments database here


In the news this past week: Media

Facebook opened a new front in its battle with Google, Yahoo, AOL and others, launching Facebook Messages, a web-based email service which allows its 500m members to sign up for their own @facebook.com address. The development has been welcomed by many analysts as a significant move away from the comparatively narrow confines of social media. The Wall Street Journal commented: "Facebook's evolution into an all-encompassing web portal just took a big step forward. And Yahoo and AOL's hopes of remaining relevant took two steps back... Both these portals have long been dependent on email to drive traffic, much more so than Google. And while both Yahoo and AOL have tried to reinvent themselves as sources of original content, email remains critical."

Will they, won't they? Yes they will. Newsweek and opinion blog The Daily Beast confirmed their merger after several weeks of on-off negotiations. Daily Beast's founder Tina Brown, the former superstar editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, will become editor-in-chief of the combined title alongside CEO Stephen Colvin. The new business will be called The Newsweek Daily Beast Company, jointly owned by Barry Diller's IAC digital roll-up and hifi billionaire Sidney Harman. In a Daily Beast post confirming the deal, Tina Brown wrote: "What does this exciting new media marriage mean? It means that The Daily Beast's animal high spirits will now be teamed with a legendary, weekly print magazine in a joint venture." Her first move was to pull the plug on Newsweek's website, directing people instead to the Daily Beast site. Yet the New York Times was sceptical over the long-term prospects for the merger which, said columnist David Carr, "makes little financial sense, includes not much in the way of editorial synergies... and marries two properties that have almost nothing in common other than the fact that they both lose lots of money. Other than that? A great idea. Brilliant, really. And it will be fun to watch."

Heads are starting to roll at NBC Universal in anticipation of its takeover by cable giant Comcast, expected to complete before the end of the year. NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker has already been told his service will not be required by incoming CEO Steve Burke. He is now to be joined at the exit by Jeff Gaspin, currently chairman of NBC Universal TV Entertainment. 

Ashley Stockwell, executive director of brand & marketing at Virgin Media, is to leave the company in 2011 "to pursue other challenges". Stockwell has spent two decades working on Virgin-branded businesses. Before joining the newly created Virgin Media in 2006, he had worked on Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Cinemas and Virgin Mobile.

UK telecoms giant BT reported disappointing results for its latest campaign to establish its BT Vision online TV service as a viable competitor to Sky and Virgin Media. Despite a lavish GBP 30 marketing push and the bolt-on of two premium Sky Sports channels, only 53,000 new subscribers have joined the service since March, bringing the total number up to 520,000 users. By comparison, market leader Sky last week broke through the 10m level. The weak performance at BT Vision clouded an otherwise improved 3Q performance by Britain's biggest fixed line and broadband supplier.

The BBC sold its 50% stake in the Animal Planet cable joint venture to partner Discovery Communications for GBP 156m, although it also extended its content partnership with the channel, with whom it develops natural history programming, for a further two years to 2014. Animal Planet currently reaches almost 250m cable subscribers in more than 170 global markets.

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Simon Tesler
Publisher, Adbrands