Unilever to Decide as Initiative Fights to Hold Onto Lion’s Share

LOS ANGELES A decision on Unilever’s $1.3 billion European media review could come this week, sources said, with IPG’s Initiative fighting to retain its hold on the business against fellow finalists WPP’s MindShare, also a roster shop, and Aegis’ Carat. A decision had been expected weeks ago, but sources said disagreements within the packaged-goods giant held up the search, with local media managers balking at a decision that would impose an agency on them. Initiative handles most of the largest European markets, with MindShare handling Germany and Italy.

Coke to Hear ‘Classic’ Ideas Through October

NEW YORK Presentations for the so-called “iconic” brief for Coca-Cola Classic will continue through the end of this month, according to sources. The client has heard ideas in London and at its Atlanta headquarters from agencies including WPP’s MW/Red Cell in Buenos Aires and Berlin Cameron/Red Cell in New York; the Madrid and Johannesburg offices of IPG’s McCann Erickson; Publicis in Paris; independent Mother in London; and undisclosed others, according to sources. Coke will choose a handful of ideas to test, with the goal of going into production at the end of the year. A Coke representative declined comment.

Second Havas Investor’s Rising Stake Raises Eyebrows

NEW YORK Intrigue about the fate of Havas mounted last week as the French holding company confirmed that Belgian businessman Albert Frere acquired just under 5 percent of its shares. Frere, the chairman of investment giant Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, held a Havas stake in the late ’90s and sat on its board when former Havas chairman Pierre Dauzier was at the company. (Frere sold his Havas shares after Compagnie Générale des Eaux and Havas were combined and folded into Vivendi.) Dauzier is an ally of French corporate raider Vincent Bolloré, who has upped his Havas stake to 22 percent. A Havas representative said that Frere said he is not aligned with other company investors.

Lucent Poised to Pick New Shop for $10-15 Mil. Account

NEW YORK Lucent Technologies this week is expected to select an agency to handle its $10-15 million ad account, sources said. A handful of shops—up to four, said a source —pitched the creative and media account. Lucent’s previous shop, IPG’s McCann Erickson in New York, split with the client in July, an agency rep said. Lucent’s media spending dwindled to less than $100,000 last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, after peaking at $50 million in 2000. Lucent provides software and hardware used to run telecommunications networks and markets itself principally to telecoms.

Euro RSCG Life Lands Global Duties on 3 Sanofi Brands

NEW YORK Sanofi-Aventis awarded Euro RSCG Life the global ad account for thrombosis drug Lovenox and diabetes treatments Lantus and Apidra. Billings were not disclosed, but the agency said the additional business makes the French drug maker one of parent Havas’ top five clients. The assignment includes product ads, medical education, public relations, medical DTC and interactive in 60 countries.

News Roundup

Publicis & Hal Riney in San Francisco has hired Karen C. Francis, formerly CEO of Ford Motor Co.’s Consumer Connect division, as chairman and CEO. Francis, 42, will begin Nov. 1, the agency said. The job opened up in late 2003, when CEO Scott Marshall retired. President and ecd Kirk Souder had been filling both roles while he searched for a replacement. … IPG’s McCann Erickson and Omnicom’s BBDO, both in New York, are the last shops to give presentations today in the review for the U.S. Army’s $180 million account, sources said. Competitors WPP’s Grey, Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, all in New York, and the incumbent, Publicis’ Leo Burnett in Chicago, went last week. … Vonage hopes to select an agency this week for its estimated $50-75 million account, sources said. The finalists are IPG’s Lowe in New York, which pitched with aQuantive’s Avenue A/Razorfish in Seattle, Havas’ Arnold in Boston and Aegis’ Carat in New York, which paired with sibling Freeman Interactive, the interactive creative incumbent.