Hotline

IPG Probes Western Initiative
LOS ANGELES–Interpublic Group of Cos. is conducting an internal investigation at Western Initiative Media Worldwide, sources said last week. The holding com-pany is exploring the possibility of misconduct, perhaps of a financial nature, at the media buying service. The investigation coincides with the leave of absence of Western president and chief operating officer Michael Kassan, who was said to be in New York last week meeting with IPG officials. IPG and Western executives would not comment.

APL and Iridium Split, Client to Hunt Again
NEW YORK–Ammirati Puris Lintas and satellite phone service provider Iridium parted ways last week. Iridium, which has been engulfed by problems for the past several months, substantially reduced what had been a $140 million media budget and shifted marketing tactics. “They’re very nice people, but they are no longer doing what we were hired to help them do,” said James Allman, president of the agency’s office here. Iridium representative Michelle Lyle confirmed the split, saying the company is refocusing its marketing to target specific industries. She said Iridium will soon conduct a review for a new agency with direct- response expertise. She declined to comment on proposed spending.

Bozell Restructures Creative Department
NEW YORK–Bozell Worldwide has named David Nobay, formerly a partner at Anthem in London (part of the AMV BBDO Group), as its new group creative director. He shares the title with Rich Levy, who was a senior partner handling the Bell Atlantic Mobile account. J. Richard Hsu, an independent designer, joins Bozell as creative director, head of design. Andrew Chinich, formerly of TBWA/Chiat/Day and Merkley Newman Harty, was named executive director of broadcast production. All report to executive creative director Brent Bouchez.

Saatchi, Toyota Seek Help on Contract Renewal
LOS ANGELES–Toyota Motor Sales USA and Saatchi
& Saatchi in Los Angeles are interviewing consultants about handling their contract-renewal negotiations. The Southern California office of Saatchi is the lead shop on Toyota. Its Team One Advertising unit handles Toyota’s luxury nameplate, Lexus. “It’s a matter of course,” said Steve Sturm, Toyota’s vice president of marketing, who emphasized it is not a review of the estimated combined $800 million account. “We are looking at how to structure our long-term contract with Saatchi.” Among the consultancies under consideration is Select Resources International in Los Angeles, confirmed Saatchi CEO Scott Gilbert.

Account Activity
DealTime.com of Stamford, Conn., is closing in on a shop to handle its $5-10 million account. The finalists: Margeotes/Fertitta + Partners; Gotham; Berlin, Cameron & Partners; DeVito Verdi; and Hampel/Stefanides, all in New York, said sources. (Continued on page 52)