Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd September 2010
A weekly round up of key news about 
leading advertisers, agencies and mediaowners
 
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RECENTLY ADDED PROFILES

Procter and Gamble

Starcom MediaVest

Coca Cola

Young and Rubicam

Unilever

MediaEdge:CIA

Kraft Foods

BBDO

LOreal
DDB

OMD

Nike

TBWA

Sony

JWT

Johnson and Johnson

Carat

McCann Erickson
Apple
Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Diageo

Ogilvy and Mather

Ford Motors

Mindshare

Verizon

ZenithOptimedia

Four of our favourite ads this week: 

Martini Gold with Monica Bellucci
by Jonas Akerlund/Dolce&Gabbana

Tetley Tea "Tetley Tea Folk Comeback"
by
MCBD

UPS "That's Logistics"
by Ogilvy New York

Diesel Sneakers "Countryside"
by
Santo Buenos Aires

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

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A host of luminaries grace this new ad for the premium aperitif Martini Gold. Fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana lent their creative skills to the conception of the film, designed the bottle and make a cameo appearance alongside luscious Franco-Italian actress Monica Bellucci and the even more statuesque beauty of the city of Rome. Behind the camera is Jonas Akerlund, currently the world's most sought-after music video director for his work for Lady Gaga. So it's five star quality all-round. Spectacular.

If you're not from these British Isles you probably won't "get" MCBD's new ad for top-selling Tetley Tea. The Tetley Tea Folk were arguably the nation's best-loved advertising mascots until their retirement more than a decade ago. Here they are awakened from their prolonged slumber by the refreshing aroma of their favourite tea. How very very quaint we British are!

Ogilvy New York unveils its debut ad for package delivery giant UPS, abandoning whiteboards and the power of "brown" for a song of praise for logistics. Impressively done.

And finally, there are arguably no words that can describe the bizarre new campaign for Diesel Sneakers, from Argentinean creative hothouse Santo. The point of the campaign is that these sneakers are not for running, but for kicking asses. Which is what they proceed to do. Or something like it. Odd, but then from Diesel you would expect nothing less.


In the news this past week: Brands & Advertisers

The impact of fierce competition in the smartphone sector was demonstrated in the latest quarterly results from BlackBerry manufacturer RIM. For 2Q, the company posted big increases in revenues and profits compared to the same period in 2009, and also in the number of new devices sold. However it also reported the most significant decline to-date in net new subscribers. The company attracted 4.5m new subscribers in 2Q, lower than it had forecast, and down from 4.9m in the previous quarter. RIM blamed the launch of Apple's iPhone 4 as well as a range of new Android-powered devices, and said it company anticipated a rebound in net subscriber numbers in 3Q, assisted by the launch of its new BlackBerry Torch device. RIM is also widely expected to confirm the launch of its first tablet device, the so-called BlackPad. An announcement is expected early next week.

L'Oreal has appointed its first ever group chief marketing officer. Marc Menesguen, previously president of the group's luxury products division, assumes that role. He remains a member of L'Oreal's executive committee, reporting to CEO Jean-Paul Agon. Nicolas Hieronimus, formerly president, professional products, replaces Menesguen as head of luxury products, and has in turn replaced by An Verhulst-Santos.

There was a similar reshuffle at Verizon Communications, as the company announced a series of changes designed to anticipate the eventual retirement of chairman & CEO Ivan Seidenberg. Lowell McAdam, previously CEO of Verizon Wireless, was promoted to group president & COO, filling a role that has been empty since Denny Strigl retired at the end of last year. McAdam's appointment prompted several other promotions, with Daniel Mead moving up to wireless CEO, and chief marketing officer John Stratton taking on Mead's former role as COO. Separately, Fran Shammo transferred from head of Verizon Wireline to replace CFO John Killian who retires at the end of this year. Stratton's successor as chief marketing officer will be announced in due course.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Procter & Gamble has ended talks with US snacks marketer Diamond Foods over the transfer of its Pringles chips brand to the smaller company, which makes Emerald nuts and Pop Secret popcorn. According to Bloomberg, the two groups had been discussing a tax-free "spin merger", whereby P&G would spin off Pringles to shareholders as separate entity which would then merge with Diamond Foods. P&G shareholders would end up with a majority stake in the combined business, along similar lines to the merger of Folgers coffee and JM Smucker last year. However, the packaged goods giant was said to have concerns regarding Diamond's comparatively small current share issue, which might make it hard for new stockholders to sell their shares.

General Motors and Nissan are gearing up for a head-to-head contest this Autumn between their respective electric cars, which will be the first fully-electric mainstream vehicles from any of the major manufacturers. GM's Chevrolet Volt will be the first out of the garage. It goes on-sale in the US next Friday, October 1st, but won't be available in mainland Europe until 2011 and not in the UK until early 2012. The Nissan Leaf will launch in the US and Japan this December, and will beat the Volt into Europe from Q1 2011. There are some clear pros and cons. The Volt is more expensive at a list price of $41,000 (to Leaf's $33,000), although both vehicles qualify for a $7,500 tax credit. The Volt takes two hours longer to charge, and can travel 40 miles on a full battery (compared to 100 miles for the Leaf). But it is American, which of course counts for a lot with US consumers. And it has a top speed of 100mph (as opposed to 90mph for the Leaf). Other manufacturers will be watching the contest between the two companies closely in advance of their own electric launches.

Going in a completely different direction, BMW today launched a new two-wheeled scooter under its Mini brand. The company has called upon supermodel Agyness Deyn to promote the new design.

In a separate development, Renault and Nissan announced plans to coordinate the structures of their respective global marketing departments in a further expansion of their existing alliance. Stephen Norman will head up the Renault team, with Andy Palmer as his counterpart at Nissan. The two teams will work more closely together to maximise cost effectiveness across their global marketing communications.

Video rental chain Blockbuster has today filed for voluntary Chapter 11 protection as part of a pre-packaged bankruptcy agreed with its bondholders. The company has been struggling for several years to adapt to dramatic shifts in the way in which consumers watch movies at home, and the rise of mail order and streamed video-on-demand. Blockbuster aims to reduce its debt mountain of more than $900m to $100m by swapping senior debt for equity. However all ordinary shareholders are likely to be wiped out.

There was further turmoil in the UK banking sector. Lloyds Banking Group CEO Eric Daniels announced plans to retire at the end of next year, kicking off a search for his successor. Meanwhile the Financial Times reported that HSBC's CEO Michael Geoghegan had threatened to quit the company after being informed that the board was leaning towards former Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton as their preferred choice for the role of chairman, to replace Stephen Green who is joining the UK government as trade minister at the end of the year. Geoghehan was said to have his own eye on the chairman role. HSBC reacted angrily to the rumour of his threatened resignation, calling it "offensive nonsense". Whatever the truth of the story, Thornton now looks unlikely to get the job. The latest whispers point to HSBC finance director Douglas Flint as the likely final choice.

HP and Oracle called a truce in their legal battle over the latter's appointment of recently ousted HP CEO Mark Hurd as co-president. HP had attempted to block that appointment on grounds of trade secrecy. However, it agreed to drop its case in return for Hurd's agreement to waive his rights to any remaining compensation. More importantly perhaps, Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison confirmed that the two companies could now renew their long-standing technology partnership. Separately, in the continuing land-grab being undertaken by America's IT giants, IBM agreed to acquire data warehousing specialist Netezza for $1.7bn. That deal follows a string of acquisitions by HP of storage and data management companies. In another technology development, Dell announced the departure of chief marketing officer Erin Mulligan Nelson after just 20 months in the job. She has been replaced by Karen Quintos, previously VP, global public marketing.

British fashion retailer French Connection showed signs of a much-needed turnaround in performance, signposting an end to the prolonged four year slump which kicked off in 2006 as customers finally tired of the company's FCUK shock marketing tactics. The company reported a profit for the first half of 2010 after two years of annual losses, and also announced an important new licensing agreement with the retailer Sears. The US giant will begin selling an exclusive new fashion range from Spring 2011 under the name UK Style by French Connection. It will market the clothing through specially created branded boutiques in 500 stores nationwide. The clothes are being produced under contract by the US arm of  licensed apparel specialist Li & Fung.

UK department store John Lewis said it would phase out its Greenbee service, launched in 2006 as an umbrella for a range of online services including insurance, travel and event ticketing. It will continue to offer insurance, but this will now be offered under the main John Lewis banner.

Credit services group Experian has acquired US competitor Mighty Net for $208m. The smaller company offers a similar range of online credit check services for consumers, mainly under the CreditReport.com banner. Experian owns FreeCreditReport.com.

PepsiCo relaunched its Sierra Mist lemon-lime soda under the name Sierra Mist Natural, with an altered formula that strips out all artificial ingredients, as well as a new logo and bottle design. A marketing campaign is launching this week under the tag line "The soda nature would drink if nature drank soda".


In the news this past week: Agencies

Japanese marketing giant Dentsu is reported to have made a lavish preliminary bid of $600m for highly regarded digital agency AKQA, which is being put up for sale by private equity backer General Atlantic. The Japanese group has been beaten to the punch on several similar acquisitions in the past, most notably in the case of Razorfish, on which it was outbid by Publicis, and more recently with the purchase this year of iCrossing by Hearst. Dentsu's eagerness not to be trumped again appears to be reflected in the reported offer, which is significantly higher than the $544m paid by Publicis for Razorfish, a much larger company. AKQA's executive directors are said to prefer the idea of an IPO of the business; but a trade sale may well prove more popular with General Atlantic, especially at that price. However, Brand Republic reports today that WPP is also assembling a bid for AKQA, raising the possibility that this could turn into a bidding war between two of the world's biggest marketing groups. Investment bank Morgan Stanley is managing the sale. None of the interested parties have officially confirmed or denied the story.

Australian marketing services group Photon continued to consolidate its agency portfolio. It confirmed the merger of local media planning and strategy unit Bellamy Hayden into the Australian office of its flagship agency Naked, and further mergers are expected. In the meantime Bellamy Hayden's founding partner Phil Hayden was given the task of opening a new office of Naked in Singapore. Photon is still struggling to manage a large mountain of debt accumulated during the course of rapid expansion between 2005 and 2008, when it acquired more than 50 different marketing services companies.

In account assignments, Pfizer launched a review of its mammoth $700m US media business, currently handled by Carat. Levi's called a review of its global media account, currently split between several different agencies, including OMD in North America and Starcom in much of Europe. Dell began looking beyond its current arrangement with WPP's Y&R and Wunderman with a brief for a new consumer campaign. US food company Pinnacle transferred creative for its Birds Eye, Van de Camp and other frozen meals from Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal to TBWA\New York. Cereal marketer Post appointed BurnsGroup. In the UK, bed retailer Dreams called a review of its GBP 30m creative account, currently managed by regional shop Robson Brown. M&C Saatchi was handed global launch duties for the new .xxx web domain. For all appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account Assignments database here


In the news this past week: Media

A consortium of the UK's terrestrial broadcasters firmed up plans for the launch of an internet-based video-on-demand service. That service has until now been known as Project Canvas, but now has a confirmed launch name of YouView TV, as well as a newly appointed chief executive, Richard Halton, previously a senior executive at the BBC and a key figure in the development of their own iPlayer catch-up service. YouView is expected to launch during the first half of 2011 in direct competition with Sky and Virgin Media. The business is jointly owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five broadcast companies in partnership with telecoms companies BT and Talk Talk and transmitter services provider Arqiva.

Hachette Filipacchi, the US magazine publishing arm of French group Lagardere, named Steve Parr as its new CEO, replacing Alain Lemarchand, who is to move back to France. The group is best-known for its Elle and Woman's Day titles.

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Simon Tesler
Publisher, Adbrands