Adbrands Weekly Update 27th May 2010
A weekly round up of key news about 
leading advertisers, agencies and mediaowners
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United Biscuits

Please note: Adbrands Weekly Update takes a short break next week, and will return on 10th June.

Four of our favourite ads this week: 

Nike "Write The Future"
by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam

Ford "Pretty Big Deal"
by Team Detroit

Sony "Do Not Adjust Your Set"
by Anomaly London

Dulux "Let's Colour"
by Euro RSCG London

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

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A collection of four epics this week. First up, what is almost certainly the best ad so far from the World Cup build-up. Nike's Write The Future spot by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam was unveiled simultaneously last Saturday in 32 different countries during the TV broadcast of the UEFA Champions League Final*. Starring several of Nike's key endorsement partners it sets out to demonstrate the visceral thrill of the beautiful game as well as the potential results of success or failure on the pitch. We especially like that nightmare vision of Wayne Rooney as a caravan-bound line-painter! The spot was helmed by movie director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose film credits include Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. (* A footnote: Nike's global simulcast seems to have gone well in every country except the UK, where a technical error by broadcaster ITV caused the ad to freeze just before the end. The channel offered a grovelling public apology and, presumably, made financial compensation for their error).

An epic of a different sort accompanied the US launch of Ford's Fiesta small car. Well known in Europe and most other international markets, the model has never been seen before in Ford's home market. Well, they certainly know how to make a splash. Hard to know how much of the action was real, and how much post-production, but it's an impressive feat nonetheless. WPP's Team Detroit construct did the honours. Cool.

Sony is keeping its new European agency Anomaly busy with what is getting on for one new ad every couple of weeks. They're not big-budget spectaculars like those produced by predecessor Fallon, but they appear to be having an impact. This new ad is designed to promote the company's line of 3D televisions, new this summer in time for - yes, that's right - the World Cup. Interesting effect. Do not watch this ad after too much to drink in case of nausea.

And finally, the new global campaign for Dulux paint from Euro RSCG London. This one's a stunner, collecting together footage from a series of company-sponsored mass-decoration events which have taken place around the globe since the beginning of the year. A lovely piece of work.

In the news this past week: Brands & Advertisers

The UK's newly appointed coalition government plans to slash its own advertising expenditure by as much as 160m a year as part of its drive to reduce the country's huge deficit. All new advertising and marketing spend will be frozen, with only what are considered to be "essential campaigns" allowed to continue. That decision will reverse steady increases in spend by successive Labour governments. Last year, the government's COI marketing organisation became the country's single biggest advertiser with spend estimated by Nielsen at 208m. Prime minister David Cameron is said to favour a move away from the so-called "nanny state" approach favoured by Labour, which tended to preach top-down social messages, and towards what has been called "nudge" theory, a form of bottom-up behavioural economics in which the public encourages changes in social behaviour through peer pressure and local voluntary groups.

WPP's Kantar Media division (formerly TNS) released encouraging US advertising expenditure figures for the first quarter. Total measured spend was $31.3bn, up 5.1% on the same quarter in 2009. That was the first quarterly increase since 2006, although the figure was still below 1Q 2008. The most significant change was the uplift from auto manufacturers and dealers. Car companies hiked combined spend by 20% compared to 2009, while expenditure by dealerships rose almost 16%. General Motors alone boosted spending by almost 29% to $534m, making it the #3 advertiser during the period behind P&G and AT&T. However, it wasn't all sunshine. The increases were limited to TV, internet and radio media. Long-suffering print publishers were still in the red, with newspapers and magazine still seeing declines of 3.7% and 3.2% respectively. The single poorest performer was again b2b magazines, where ad spend slumped by a further 8.2%.

The postponed strike by British Airways' Heathrow cabin crew started this week, following last week's temporary court injunction. However, an end could now be in sight, with most observers expecting the dispute to have resolved itself by summer. BA's senior management will have been cheered by comments from a prominent (but unnamed) official from the Unite union who acknowledged to the Times newspaper that BA would win the dispute and had "destroyed" the union. Unite's position was made worse by a rift between its co-leaders Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson when it transpired that Simpson had, without Woodley's knowledge, been tweeting live updates on the negotiations during meetings. That resulted in a group of radical socialist protesters invading the building and disrupting talks. BA also published financial results for the year to the end of March 2010, which demonstrated that the company has had some success in reducing costs. Revenues plunged by 1bn (or 11%) to just under 8.0bn ($12bn), but thanks to cost-cutting and the fall in fuel prices pretax losses rose by only 130,000 to 531m, less than had been feared. That included 43m of additional costs relating to the first wave of strikes.

Further proof of the power of developing markets in the face of economic slumps in America and Europe came with reports in the Financial Times that Brazil is likely to overtake Germany this year as the world's #4 car market. China is now the #1 market by unit sales, with the US and Japan placed #2 and #3 respectively. Last year Brazil was ranked #5. The country has seen exceptional growth in car sales over the past few years. In 2009, new car registrations exceeded 3m for the first time, having doubled in just six years. Consulting giant PwC forecasts that the market will grow by another 8% during 2010 to 3.3m sales, whereas Germany, still struggling under the weight of the economic downturn, is likely to suffer a 20% decline to just under 3.2m vehicles. The Brazilian market is led by Fiat, whose badge is on one out of every new car sold in the country. Not far behind is Volkswagen with a little under 23% share. GM has almost 20%, while Ford has 10%.

Toyota made a $50m investment in Tesla Motors, the US maker of high-performance electric sports cars. The two companies will cooperate on the development of electric vehicles, parts and production systems. Tesla is scaling up its activities dramatically this year. It recently acquired New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (or NUMMI), the factory in California that was previously jointly owned by Toyota and GM. Separately, Volkswagen acquired Italian design company Italdesign Giugiaro. Although that agency has worked on many different sorts of consumer products, it is most widely known as a specialist in vehicle design. In the past it has worked under contract for virtually all the major manufacturers contributing anything from full model concepts to design features such as door-roof joins that prevent rain drips from entering the car. Following the takeover, the company's design team will devote itself exclusively to Volkwagen's family of car brands.

Apple's iPad launches in international markets tomorrow, and more manufacturers are jumping on the tablet bandwagon. Last week, HP and Blackberry announced plans to enter the sector. This week, Dell confirmed the launch of its own tablet, the Streak, next month. The Streak is smaller than the iPad, with a 5" screen, around half the size of the Apple device, but offers additional telephone functions that the iPad lacks. It will launch through a tie-up with AT&T in the US and O2 in Europe.

In the mean time, the continuing success of the iPad, which has proved far more popular with consumers than many sceptics had anticipated, has helped Apple to achieve a new milestone. Despite the global crash in stock markets this week, Apple's stock price is hitting new highs, hovering at around the $250 level. Yesterday the company officially became the world's most valuable technology company, overtaking Microsoft for the first time ever. Apple's market capitalisation is now around $222bn, while Microsoft's has fallen steadily from a high of almost $550bn at the end of 1999 to $219bn yesterday. Meanwhile Microsoft announced a management shakeup. Robbie Bach, head of the entertainment & devices division responsible for Xbox, Zune and the Windows mobile operating system, is leaving the company and will not be replaced. Instead the two subordinate heads of entertainment devices and mobile systems will report directly to group CEO Steve Ballmer.

Australia's Foster's Group announced plans to split in two, probably during the first half of 2011. The group has struggled for several years to turn around performance at its wine division, one of the world's largest with brands such as Wolf Blass, Beringer, Penfolds and Lindemans. That business will be spun off as a standalone company, reducing Foster's Group to its core brewery operations. These trade as Carlton & United Breweries (CUB). Brands include Australia's two top-selling beers VB and Carlton, as well as a clutch of other brews. Ironically, Foster's lager itself makes only a small contribution to the business plays only a small role in the business. Despite its international profile, local sales of Foster's are very small, and international rights are mostly owned by other companies. Carlton & United Breweries is unlikely to remain independent for long. It will doubtless attract the attentions of predatory multinational groups, perhaps Japan's Asahi or Suntory. CUB's main rival in Australia, Lion Nathan, is already a subsidiary of Japanese giant Kirin. North American brewery group Molson Coors already has a 5% investment shareholding in Foster's Group and distributes the Foster's brand in the US through MillerCoors.

A number of other alcohol brands are also likely top come onto the market in the coming months. Pernod-Ricard has said that it will reduce its collection of regional brands during the year through sales. Among those brands looking for a new home could be heritage pastis Pernod, which has long been overshadowed by its much larger sister Ricard. Meanwhile the Times reported on discreet attempts by AB InBev to find a taker for its British beers Boddington's and Bass Ale

Unilever is to be crowned as Advertiser of the Year at the Cannes Lions festival next month, in recognition of its strong track record over the past few years. The accolade is also a nod of recognition for outgoing CMO Simon Clift, who stepped down earlier this year after being largely responsible for forging Unilever's distinctive marketing approach on brands such as Dove, Axe/Lynx, Marmite, Persil/Omo and other products.

Meanwhile, Silvio Lagnado, one of Unilever's star marketers over the past few years, is to join Bacardi in September as chief global marketing officer, filling the role left empty since Stella David's departure in 2009. Lagnado is best-known as the marketer responsible for rolling out Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty around the globe. More recently she has been responsible for the Knorr masterbrand.

In other personnel moves, Robert Dotson, CEO of T-Mobile's hard-pressed US operations, announced plans to retire in early 2011. He will be replaced by Phillip Humm, currently managing director, Germany. Nissan named Jon Brancheau as its new VP, marketing for North America, filling the post vacated by Joel Ewanick after just a few weeks when he jumped ship to GM. Brancheau was previously director of global marketing communications for Nissan's Infiniti brand. Heinz UK & Ireland named Matt Hill as its new chief marketing officer, filling a role that has been empty since last year. Kraft appointed Margaret Jobling as interim marketing director for Cadbury's confectionery, replacing departing chief Phil Rumbol. She was previously head of the company's Dairy Milk brand. Doug Bewsher was named as global chief marketing officer for Skype, based out of the company's headquarters in Luxembourg.

Ralph Lauren reported resilient financial results for the fiscal year ending in March. Revenues dipped marginally from just over to just under $5.0bn. Net profits rose by 18% to $480m. Profits from the final quarter alone more than doubled. The previous year's figures were impacted by around $80m of restructuring and impairment charges. Excluding the impact of these, performance was more or less unchanged for the year. There were also figures from Burberry, which scored a further 7% increase in sales to 1.3bn (approx $2.0bn), and pretax profits of 166m after last year's loss.

In the news this past week: Agencies

General Motors confirmed that the advertising account for Chevrolet would transfer not to Publicis, as had been previously arranged, but to Goodby Silverstein. Publicis was only awarded the account six weeks ago, but that decision was swiftly overturned by incoming CMO Joel Ewanick, who has long-standing connections with Goodby. Apparently, Publicis didn't even get a call to tell them they were off the account, but had to hear about it in the trade press. Publicis USA CEO Susan Giannino vented her frustration in an email to staff obtained by AdAge. "One thing I know for sure is that Chevy has lost something in this decision," she said. "I am not saying they will fail; or that the agencies they will work with are bad. I am saying that they were disrespectful in this decision. It was made without a thoughtful review of what we were doing or had planned. It was made without meeting any of us. That just isn't right. But things are not always right and fair."

Germany's trade press are reporting today the sudden resignation of Karen Breitenbuecher as CEO of the local arm of Y&R after less than 18 months in the role. According to Horizon T, Breitenbuecher had clashed several times with network chiefs over levels of investment in the local company. Y&R Germany has been plagued with management problems over the past few years, as the business struggles to get to grips with disappointing performance. Jan Leube, appointed earlier this year, was the agency's third executive creative director in less than two years.

In account assignments, US drugstore giant CVS appointed Arnold Worldwide to handle its advertising. That account, worth around $100m in billings, is the biggest win in many years for the Havas-owned agency. Mars consolidated global advertising for its Uncle Ben's brand with BBDO. The account had been held in the US and some other countries by TBWA. Blockbuster shifted advertising from DDB to Euro RSCG in Chicago. Accenture called a global review of advertising, out of Y&R. The company is seeking a new direction in the wake of its decision to drop longtime brand ambassador Tiger Woods last year. US snack manufacturer Diamond Foods called a review of US creative and media out of Goodby Silverstein and PHD respectively. US financial services company Prudential (a different company from Prudential of the UK and Asia) is looking for a new agency to take over creative, currently managed inhouse. Dyson is to review European media out of Mindshare. It is already reviewing UK media, held by Walker Media. Also in the UK, The Co-operative Group reappointed Rocket PHD to handle its media account. For all other appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account Assignments database here

In the news this past week: Media

Google revealed details of a new software system that is designed to transform TVs into fully functional web browsers. This will allow for seamless internet connectivity and easy viewing of all web-based content alongside traditional broadcast services. Google's intention is for the system to be pre-installed on new TVs. The company is working with Sony, Intel and set-top box manufacturer Logitech to introduce the service, expected late summer. The launch was treated to a major fanfare from Google and its manufacturing partners, but media observers were generally unimpressed. Several other technology companies have tried and failed in the past to launch crossover TV services, including Microsoft, Yahoo and most recently Apple, whose Apple TV product has been virtually its only flop in recent years. Separately, Google's proposed acquisition of mobile advertising company AdMob was cleared by US regulators. The FTC decided that the recently announced introduction by Apple of a rival service, iAd, would remove concerns that Google's ownership of AdMob could create a monopoly.

The UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that European broadcast group RTL is discussing the sale of its British subsidiary Five. In the past, there have been attempts to merge Five, the UK's smallest terrestrial broadcaster, with its larger competitor Channel 4, but these appear to have stalled as a result of indifference on the part of 4 and apparent opposition from government. RTL refused to comment directly on the Telegraph's story, but hinted that some sort of deal is under discussion. A spokesman confirmed that "there will be further consolidation in the UK broadcasting market." Five is the weakest of RTL's broadcasting businesses, and was the only one to report operating losses in 2009.

There were also changes over at the UK's biggest commercial channel ITV. In the first major development since the arrival of new CEO Adam Crozier, board director and managing director of brand & communications Rupert Howell announced his resignation. Crozier and chairman Archie Norman have recently presented their new strategy for the business to senior managers. Howell said in a statement "Given the proposed changes arising from the strategy review... there is not a role I want to commit to for the next three to five years therefore I have agreed to leave and step down from the board."

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Simon Tesler
Publisher, Adbrands