Commonwealth Bank "Call
by Goodby Silverstein
by Publicis Mojo Australia
by Wieden & Kennedy
by Fallon London
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Our first two spots this week cross all international boundaries. First up, an
ad by an American agency for an Australian bank by a French director. In a
slightly unlikely partnership, Goodby Silverstein continues to manage the
creative account for Australia's Commonwealth Bank from its US office.
Here Goodby presents the latest in its campaign, a typically elegant film shot
by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie, Alien Resurrection). Once again, the ad is built
around a post-modern self-referential concept in which it explicitly acknowledges
its own "ad-ness". You either like that idea or you don't. Personally,
we're not too keen, but the style of the spot makes up for its arch knowingness.
Next up, an Australian agency makes an ad for an American company in Europe. Publicis
Mojo Sydney is responsible for this impressive spot for Coke's Burn
energy drink, in a campaign which launches this summer throughout Europe. Cool!
and hot! both at the same time.
Wieden & Kennedy unveils the second spot in its
"inspirational" campaign for Levi's jeans. Unlike the last
spot, which featured a Walt Whitman poem and scratchy monochrome, this
slowburning film aims to uplift viewers with a message about urban regeneration
in the rundown town of Braddock, Pennsylvania. Beautifully made, and very
worthy, but not we think an ad that will get you rushing out to but a pair of
jeans any time soon...
And finally, one of two surreal new spots by Fallon London for
Kraft/Cadbury's Maynards wine gums, revealing the psychotropic properties
of those confectionery delights. See the other
ad here. Weeeeeird! Though personally I still retain a soft spot for that
Scotsman" ad from the early 1990s. Hoots mon! There's juice loose
aboot this hoose!
In the news this past week: Brands &
Reckitt Benckiser added to its healthcare portfolio this week, launching a GBP 2.5bn
offer to acquire SSL International, the maker of Durex condoms and Scholl
footcare products outside the US. (Merck owns rights to the Dr Scholl brand in
North America). Such an acquisition had been widely anticipated, and RB has
conducted preliminary talks with SSL on several occasions in the past. Once the
deal is completed,
it will increase RB's revenues from OTC healthcare to almost GBP 3bn annually,
overtaking even GlaxoSmithKline.
SSL also owns a sizeable collection of other-the-counter healthcare products in the UK,
including Resolve, Meltus, Full Marks, Wasp-Eze, as well as the Sauber and
Mister Baby product ranges in Italy.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of low-cost airline easyJet,
has issued that company with a formal warning that it must improve the
punctuality of its flights or stop using the "easy" brand in its name.
Sir Stelios is engaged in
a long-running battle with the airline, which he no longer controls although he
retains a large minority shareholding. However the "easy" brand is
still controlled by his easyGroup holding company and used by the airline under
license. Sir Stelios opened this latest skirmish with a
public statement in which he claimed "I have been receiving many unsolicited
complaints from members of the public and even easyJet pilots about the degree
that the airline is short of crew to operate the flights it sold to its
customers." Earlier this year, rival low cost carrier Ryanair also knocked
easyJet's punctuality in a series of print ads which referred to Sir Stelios as
"Mr Late Again". Last week, it was
forced to issue an apology and a retraction after a complaint from
Sir Stelios, and acknowledged that he was "not in any way responsible for easyJet's management's
continuing failure to publish weekly details of their on-time stats."
Stelios has now issued a formal warning that easyJet must improve that
situation within 90 days or have its brand license terminated. Most observers believe that the ultimate goal of
his campaign is to
win back control of the business, which he surrendered when it floated ten
years ago. He has already announced preliminary plans to launch a rival travel
service under the easyHolidays name, and recently registered
web domains for easyFlights and easyAirtours. Earlier this year, he resigned as a director of easyJet in protest over
plans, and is also involved in a separate lawsuit over the way it accounts for its revenues.
He claims the airline is in breach of a rule that states it must generate at least 75% of
revenues from its core business of passenger transport. Instead Sir Stelios
says EasyJet is trying to "squeeze whatever revenue it can from its
customers" with additional charges.
Unilever agreed to sell its last remaining frozen foods business, Findus Italy,
to Birds Eye Iglo, which it sold to private equity fund Permira in
2006. That deal reunites the old Unilever frozen foods portfolio at the expense
of rival bidder Findus Group, which owns the Findus brand in other European
markets, as well as Young's Seafood in the UK. Birds Eye Iglo is paying a
handsome E800m in debt and equity to acquire the business.
Several other food businesses could also be coming up for sale, with a number
of brandowners reported to be investigating the possibility of disposals.
Private equity groups Blackstone and PAI Partners met this week to discuss plans
for an auction later in the year of snack company United Biscuits, owner
of McVities, Hula Hoops and Penguin biscuits. PAI is also preparing to offer up
its 50% shareholding in the French Yoplait yoghurt business. Meanwhile in
the US, Sara Lee was reported to have appointed bankers to manage the
sale of its substantial North American bakery business, and Canadian gourmet
coffee company Van Houtte is also said to be close to announcing a new
owner. On the other side of the world, San Miguel Corporation of the Philippines
has put up for sale a 49% shareholding in its Pure Foods subsidiary, the
country's biggest food group.
Ford announced several senior management changes. Volvo Cars CEO Stephen Odell
was appointed as CEO of Ford of Europe in anticipation of completion of the sale
of Volvo to Geely in the next few months. He is accompanied by Stuart Rawley,
previously Volvo CFO, who takes up the same role at Ford Europe. Brian Myers,
acting CFO of Ford Europe, returns to his previous role as that company's controller of
marketing, sales & service. Meanwhile Jim Farley,
currently Ford's group VP, global marketing, had his brief widened to cover global
sales & service as well. There were also reports of a management reshuffle
at IBM, although so far this has yet to be confirmed directly by the company.
Among the changes, Ginny Rometty, currently SVP, sales & distribution had
her role widened to include marketing and strategy, and software chief Steve
Mills was also given responsibility for the group's systems & technology
Goldman Sachs agreed to settle a lawsuit brought by the SEC for
clients over a subprime mortgage bond that generated huge losses for
participating investors. It agreed to pay a record $550m penalty, one of the
largest ever imposed in Wall Street history. As part of that arrangement,
Goldman neither admitted nor denied the charges, but did acknowledge it had made a
"mistake" by not disclosing the involvement of hedge fund Paulson
& Co, which was actively betting on a fall in market values, in suggesting
some of the securities covered by the product. The inclusion of that $550m
charge, plus an additional $600m provision for a proposed UK tax on employee bonuses caused
Goldman's 2Q profits to plunge by more than 80%. Performance for most of the big
banks suffered during the quarter from an unexpected dip in stock
markets prompted by fears for a double-dip recession. However, more
diversified lenders enjoyed a welcome boost from a long-awaited improvement in
Barclays named Nina Bibby, a former InterContinental Hotels Group executive,
as the new global chief marketing officer for its Barclaycard credit card
division. Michelle Bottomley, who had been filling in as global SMO, returns to
her role as chief marketing officer for Barclays' North American cards division.
Amazon announced that sales of e-books for its Kindle device have now overtaken
those of traditional hardbacks. In June it sold 180 Kindle books for every 100
hardcover titles. That announcement seemed to be timed to coincide with Apple's
latest earnings release, which was nothing short of spectacular. Revenues for 2Q
- which ended just before the launch of iPhone 4 - jumped by 61% compared to the
same period last year, reaching $15.7bn, around $1bn higher than analysts had
forecast. Earnings leapt by an even higher 77% to $3.25bn. Key drivers were the
iPad, which sold almost 3.3m units during the quarter and accounted for revenues
of $2bn, and the iPhone, unit sales of which soared by more than 60% to 8.4m
handsets. Even the Mac computer range achieved record sales of almost 3.5m
units. The group forecast combined revenues of $18bn for the next quarter and
CEO Steve Jobs also offered the promise of even better to come. "IPad is
off to a terrific start," he told investors, "more people are buying
Macs than ever before, and we have amazing new products still to come this
Nokia launched a search for a new CEO who might be better able to fight off the
growing challenge from Apple's iPhone and other new generation devices. Current
incumbent Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo will step down as soon as a successor can be
found. According to unconfirmed press reports, the company has already been
turned down by one potential CEO currently based in the US because of the
requirement that he relocate to Finland. Separately, Nokia Siemens Networks, the
company's telecoms infrastructure joint venture agreed to acquire Motorola's
network business for $1.2bn. That deal will give Nokia Siemens a stronger
presence in the US and also expand its relationship with existing customers
including China Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.
Not even Giorgio Armani, widely considered the fashion industry's most astute
businessman, was immune from the effects of last year's economic downturn. Group
revenues slipped 6% to E1.52bn, while earnings before depreciation, interests
etc fell from E303m to E218m. Spectacular growth in China, where sales jumped by
almost a third, failed to offset sharp declines in the group's key markets of
the US, Europe and Japan.
German discount supermarket Aldi announced plans to pull out of Greece,
putting its 38 stores there up for sale. It blamed
fierce competition at the value end of the market. Retail analysts
suggested that the group may also be considering an exit from Poland, another
hard-fought market. It is the first time that Aldi has withdrawn from any
country. Instead, the group said it would focus its attentions on its nine
remaining territories, which include the US and UK, France and the Netherlands
as well as Germany.
In the news this past week: Agencies
Omnicom was the first of the marketing services giants to report 2Q results.
Profits were better than expected at $243m, up 4%, while revenues rose 6% to
$3.04bn. Performance was helped by new business gains including Goodby
Silverstein's Chevrolet win, a clutch of Kraft accounts at TBWA and healthcare
company Humana, won by Rapp. "Economic growth is improving, although
slowly," said CEO John Wren. "An increasing number of our clients are
now focused on growth, and we are starting to see increases in the scope of
services they require." Publicis and Interpublic report next week; WPP not
until late August.
Steve Harty, group chairman of the New York office of Bartle Bogle Hegarty,
is leaving the agency. That move follows the recent loss of the Cadillac
account. Harty spent five years at BBH.
In other account assignments, Brand Republic reported that 180 Amsterdam had
been dropped as the global agency of record for Adidas in favour of Sid
Lee, the Canadian shop which has been developing its Adidas House Party
promotions. In the US, Travelers insurance transferred media to MediaCom.
Restaurant chain Denny's is reported to have parted from Goodby
Silverstein. In the UK, Santander reappointed WCRS to its creative
account after a review. In Australia, DIY retail giant Bunnings called a
review of its A$40m media account currently held by Initiative. The incumbent is
defending against rival shop Ikon. The signs don't look promising for
Initiative. The pitch is being managed by Bunnings' creative shop The Brand
Agency, which is a sister to Ikon. For
all appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account Assignments database here.
In the news this past
Google reported dynamic increases in 2Q revenues and profits, both up by
around 24% to $6.8bn and $1.8bn respectively as a result of a significant rise
in spending by corporate advertisers. The group also announced a two-year
partnership agreement with Omnicom's OMD and PHD media networks to coordinate
and improve the efficiency of those agencies' online media buying. It already
has similar arrangements with WPP and Publicis. Even so, analysts were
disappointed by the Google results, which came in slightly below expectations, causing
Google's share price to slump. A key concern was a lower than expected rise in
cost-per-click - the amount Google charges each time a user clicks on an
advert. That figure rose only 4% in 2Q, compared with forecasts
of between 6% and 8%. The shortfall was caused in part by the lower rates Google
receives from mobile advertising, and from emerging markets.
Meanwhile, the unstoppable growth of Facebook continued. This week the
company announced that user numbers had broken the 500m level for the first
time, jumping by 100m users in just five months. Growth has been generated
mostly by users from non-English-speaking countries. The company also said that
individual users now spend an average of 23 hours and 20 minutes on the site
each month; up from 20 hours and 50 minutes per month in February.
Richard Desmond, the former porn baron who now owns Express Newspapers and OK
magazine, is understood to have become the "preferred bidder" in the
auction of Five, the UK commercial broadcaster which has been put up for sale by
Bertelsmann's RTL division. He
has offered to pay as much as GBP 100m for the loss-making channel.
News Corporation appears to be paying a steep price for its decision to introduce a
paywall for access to the websites for its Times and Sunday Times
newspapers in the UK.
Research company Experian Hitwise reported a decline of at least two-thirds in
average daily traffic. However those estimates include non-paying users who only
visited the free-to-view
home page. The number of paid subscribers who progress into the body of the site
is understood to be very much lower. The Times has not said how
many users have agreed to purchase subscriptions, but media columnist (and
former Murdoch biographer) Michael
Wolff, writing for Vanity Fair's blog, said "My sources say that not
only is nobody subscribing to the website, but subscribers to the paper
itself - who have free access to the site - are not going beyond the
registration page. It's an empty world."
As expected, FriendFinder Networks trumped an offer made last week by Hugh
Hefner to acquire full control of adult entertainment empire Playboy
Enterprises. FriendFinder already owns rival brand Penthouse. Its offer valued
Playboy at $210m, well above Hefner's $185m bid. FriendFinder has also promised to
preserve the 84-year-old Hefner's editorial role at the company, and would also
let him stay on at
the Playboy mansion in Los Angeles. However the Hef, who still controls 70% of
Playboy's voting stock, is unlikely to be swayed by that offer. He told his
Twitter followers last week, "Playboy isn't in play. I'm buying, not
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