Adbrands Weekly Update 30th September 2010
A weekly round up of key news about 
leading advertisers, agencies and mediaowners
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Procter and Gamble

Starcom MediaVest

Coca Cola

Young and Rubicam



Kraft Foods








Johnson and Johnson


McCann Erickson
Bartle Bogle Hegarty


Ogilvy and Mather

Ford Motors




Four of our favourite ads this week: 

Nokia N8 "Hands On"
by Wieden & Kennedy London

McCain Foods "It's All Good"
Beattie McGuinness Bungay

Forest Stewardship Council "Dendrophilia"
by Duval Guillaume

Discover Cards "Peggy"
The Martin Agency

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

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Four pleasing new spots this week. Wieden & Kennedy London deliver an intriguing mix of images to promote the new Nokia N8 handset. I can't say I have a clear idea of what this new smart phone does or even looks like, but the ad certainly caught our attention...

Beattie McGuinness Bungay's new brand-building spot for McCain Foods falls into that much-loved category of advertising which celebrates the quirks and oddities of the British family life in a series of soundless vignettes, overlaid with music designed to tug away at your heart-strings. And a very effective addition to the fold it is too (joining such past winners as AMV BBDO's recent "Got To Be Heinz" spot or Adam & Eve's John Lewis campaign). Ah, humanity!

Perhaps only Duval Guillaume, an agency renowned for its offbeat ideas, could have come up with this ad for Belgium's Forest Stewardship Council, which manages the country's woodlands. The tagline translates a something like "Fortunately, there are other ways to show your love".

And finally, we were tickled by this new spot for Discover Financial Services from The Martin Agency. Now here's a situation I'm sure we can all sympathise with. Enjoy.

In the news this past week: Brands & Advertisers

Unilever made its biggest acquisition in several years with an agreed deal to acquire Alberto Culver, the family controlled group which has enjoyed considerable success in recent years with the Tresemme hairstyling range. Unilever agreed to pay $3.7bn for the business, which also owns the VO5 haircare range and Soft & Beautiful ethnic hair products, as well as skincare brands St Ives, Noxsema (in the US only) and Simple. The new deal comes in the wake of Unilever's acquisition of the European personal wash division of Sara Lee earlier this year, and marks a welcome return to positive growth by the Anglo-Dutch packaged goods giant. Investors seemed happy with the deal, but several media commentators were unimpressed. The Wall Street Journal accused Unilever of overpaying for Alberto Culver, pointing out that "Hair salons often sweet-talk their customers into buying expensive hair-care products they don't need. Has Unilever fallen for the same trick?". The Financial Times called the deal "unimaginative", and asked "why didn't Unilever spend its money in emerging markets [instead,] where populations, incomes and sales are rising so quickly?" Separately, Unilever was said to be considering the sell-off of its Chicken Tonight cooking sauce brand in the UK, as well as the local license for pasta sauce Ragu. Meanwhile, soap and skincare company PZ Cussons (a future acquisition target for Unilever perhaps?) snapped up St Tropez, the fake tan favoured by celebrities including Victoria Beckham, for GBP 63m.

The internal politics at HSBC reached a head at the end of last week with the resignation of group CEO Michael Geoghegan. That followed several days of internal wrangling over who would succeed Stephen Green as the bank's next chairman. Uncharacteristically for a bank as conservative as HSBC, most of the details of this messy boardroom struggle were leaked to the media on a blow-by-blow basis, representing a surprising lapse in discretion. According to a longstanding tradition at HSBC, the CEO has always subsequently been offered the role of chairman. However, Geoghegan was apparently informed by the non-executive board member handling the succession that he was not a suitable candidate, despite having been an excellent CEO. It is understood that he was considered to lack the political finesse required for the chairman role. It did not take long for Geoghegan, who is renowned for a fiery temperament, to let the board know what he thought of that decision. He will leave by the end of the year. The non-executive director who had been the board's first choice for the chairman job, former Goldman Sachs banker John Thornton, is also understood to have handed in his notice. Instead Douglas Flint, currently CFO, will take on the role of chairman, and Stuart Gulliver, head of corporate & investment banking, is to be appointed as CEO. Both men have already spent many years at the bank, proving that at least one HSBC tradition - that the bank always "grows its own timber" in terms of senior management appointments - remains true.

Britain's iconic McVitie's biscuit brand could be the next Western jewel to end up in Chinese hands. Parent company United Biscuits, which also owns snack brands Hula Hoops and KP Nuts, was reported to be in exclusive talks to be acquired by Bright Food, one of China's biggest food and beverage companies, with annual sales in excess of GBP 4bn. 

BlackBerry took the wraps off its long-anticipated tablet device this week, and confirmed its name - not BlackPad, as had been previously suggested by media pundits, but the rather more satisfying PlayBook. Unlike Apple's iPad, it comes with two cameras front and back, but has a smaller 7-inch touch screen and won't directly access cellular networks. Instead it will need to sync to a separate BlackBerry smartphone. Also, it won't go on sale in the US until early next year, missing the crucial holiday season. (Perhaps by then, BlackBerry will have figured out a way of making a direct connection to wireless networks).

Walmart took an unexpected step into Africa, announcing that it has entered exclusive negotiations to acquire Massmart Holdings, a multi-brand retail and wholesale group based in South Africa, but with a presence that stretches across 12 African countries as well as the island of Mauritius. Walmart has indicated a price tag of between $4.2bn and $4.6bn. Massmart's brands include Game general merchandise stores, Dion consumer electronics outlets, Builders home improvement stores and the local operations of wholesale warehouse Makro. It also controls several large wholesaling subsidiaries. South Africa's largest labour union was quick to voice its opposition to any deal, citing Walmart's reputation as an opponent to unionised workforces.

Consolidation continued in the global airline industry as Southwest Airlines agreed to acquire discount competitor AirTran for $3.4bn in cash and debt, while British Airways agreed terms for a long-awaited three-way joint venture with American Airlines and Iberia of Spain. Under this arrangement, the three carriers will co-operate commercially on flights between Western European and North America, splitting all revenues between them irrespective of which airline carries each passenger.

Forbes magazine published its annual ranking of America's richest. The biggest increase was recorded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerbeg, whose net worth, as estimated by Forbes, rose 245% to $6.9bn, allowing him to overtake Apple's Steve Jobs and News Corp's Rupert Murdoch for 35th place. Bill Gates remains at the top of the tree for the 17th year in succession with wealth of $54bn. Warren Buffett held onto the #2 spot with $45bn and Oracle's Larry Ellison was still 3rd with $27bn. However the upper reaches of the chart are still dominated by the combined wealth of Walmart's Walton family, who take four of the top ten places with a combined net worth of almost $84bn. Another two top ten places were held by brothers Charles and David Koch, of Koch Industries, who split $43bn between them. Google boys Larry Page and Sergey Brin held 11th-equal with $15bn apiece. See the full list here.

The Clorox Company, best-known for its eponymous bleach and other household cleaning solvents, agreed to sell its small collection of car care products including STP oils and Armor All protective sprays, to private equity fund Avista for $780m in cash. One oddly incongruous brand which still remains part of the Clorox collection is its Hidden Valley salad dressings range, now one of the top-sellers in the US. That particular product would make a far better fit in the portfolio of rivals food companies Kraft, Unilever or Nestle. A deal can't be far away.

Nestle announced the transfer of Chris Johnson, currently head of its Japanese subsidiary, to head up Nestle Americas from the beginning of 2011. Johnson replaces Luis Cantarell, who becomes CEO of new division, Nestle Health Science, which will develop specialised medical nutritional products to treat specific conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's. It will absorb Nestle's existing medical nutrition business.

The Campbell Soup Company announced that CEO Douglas Conant plans to step down at the end of July 2011, and will be replaced at that time by Denise Morrison, current head of the group's soups, sauces & beverages business in North America. She steps up to a new role as group COO next week, prompting a general reshuffle of the senior team. Among the more significant appointments was the elevation of Ingrid Chang Britt, current head of foodservice, to the role of chief strategy officer, with overall responsibility for global marketing services and consumer and customer insights.

In other personnel moves, Electrolux, the world #2 in household appliances, appointed its first non-Swedish CEO, naming an American, Keith McLoughlin, as its new head. He replaces Hans Straberg, who has led the group for the past decade. McLoughlin was previously head of global manufacturing. Separately, DIY retail giant B&Q appointed Katherine Patterson as its new UK marketing director, replacing Warren Scarr, who has moved to another role within the company. Patterson was previously head of marketing communications at Asda.

In the news this past week: Agencies

Omnicom took steps to strengthen its relationship with key client PepsiCo, appointing Rita Rodriguez to a new role as group EVP with responsibility for multi-agency integration and innovation for the drinks and snacks giant. Rodriguez was previously CEO of the US arm of experiential communications specialist Imagination, and before that US CEO of WPP's The Brand Union.

Kevin Roddy, chief creative officer at the New York outpost of Bartle Bogle Hegarty, has left the company following a disagreement over the agency's creative direction. His successor has yet to be named. Elsewhere, Reuben Hendell, CEO of McCann's digital/direct arm MRM Worldwide has left the company and is being replaced by Marc Landsberg, a former Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide executive. In addition to his duties at MRM, Landsberg will become president, corporate business development for McCann Worldgroup, with responsibility for M&A, strategic alliances and new ventures. That was one of several new appointments at McCann. Among the other changes, John Cahill was confirmed as CEO of McCann Healthcare, and McCann's EMEA region was split in two. Brett Gosper will keep control of the Europe part of the business, while Middle East and Africa will transfer to Luca Lindner, also regional CEO for Latin America.

Ikon Communications, the Australian media agency owned by STW Group, is to launch an office in New York as a joint venture with independent agency Droga5. The new Ikon 3 unit is designed to serve as the creative agency's inhouse media shop, although it will also take on other clients. Meanwhile, media planning specialist Naked established a first outpost in Dubai in partnership with creative shop BWM. Both agencies are owned by Australian marketing services group Photon.

In account assignments, fashion company Diesel appointed Santo Buenos Aires to handle its global advertising. Goldman Sachs launched a new US advertising campaign produced by Y&R. Travelocity appointed a trio of Publicis Groupe agencies: Leo Burnett for advertising, Razorfish for digital and Zenith for media. Cadillac appointed Carol H Williams to handle African-American marketing. In the UK, Arla Foods reappointed Carat to its media account after a review. Johnson & Johnson placed advertising for Benecol with Adam & Eve, and retailer Selfridges appointed 18 Feet & Rising. In Australia, Diageo called a review of media, currently handled by Mindshare. For all appointments, subscribers can access the full Adbrands Account Assignments database here

In the news this past week: Media

NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker will step down when control of that entertainment giant passes to cable group Comcast. That deal, agreed last December is still under consideration by regulators, but is expected to go through before the year-end. Comcast COO Steve Burke is expected to take over Zucker's responsibilities. Further changes are likely as Comcast tries to turn around the NBC broadcast network's long run of poor performance.

The BBC Trust, which oversees the UK's state-controlled media giant, has given its approval for the organisation to seek a buyer for BBC Magazines. It is one of the country's leading publishers, responsible for listings guide Radio Times as well as more than 30 other titles, many of them spin-offs from the BBC's most popular onscreen brands, including Top Gear, BBC Food, Gardener's World. The BBC is expected to move ahead quickly with a partial or full sale, with the aim of agreeing a deal before April 2011. Rival publishers NatMags (which is the UK subsidiary of Hearst) and Hachette Filipacchi are tipped to lead the pack of interested buyers.

Online portal AOL, struggling to reinvent itself as a content business, made three acquisitions to beef up its editorial offering. They were the well-regarded technology blog TechCrunch, web video publisher 5min and software company Thing Labs, which makes the social media application Grizzly. Total spend was around $100m.

Metro International, which publishes the Metro free daily newspaper in 100 cities worldwide, appointed its first ever head of global marketing. Christian Quarles is already head of marketing for Metro's home country of Sweden. The title is now officially the "world's largest international newspaper" (according to Guinness World Records), publishing 66 separate editions for distribution in 22 countries, with a total circulation of almost 10.3m copies. The paper is available in countries as far apart as Chile and the Czech Republic or Spain and South Korea. In the UK, the title is published under license by Associated Newspapers.

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Simon Tesler
Publisher, Adbrands