Burnett’s Pinder Is Named COO of Publicis Worldwide

CHICAGO Publicis Worldwide has appointed Burnett executive Richard Pinder COO. He succeeds Rick Bendel. Pinder, 42, has been president of Burnett’s European, Middle Eastern and African operations since 2004. Chicago-based Burnett is a unit of Publicis Groupe. In a related move, Olivier Fleurot, 54, former CEO at The Financial Times in London, has joined Publicis Worldwide as vice chairman to oversee its executive committee and set global strategy. Pinder will report to Fleurot. Burnett said it has no immediate plans to find a successor to Pinder. The management team will instead report directly to worldwide CEO Tom Bernardin. Bendel, a 20-year Publicis vet, becomes group marketing director at Asda, Wal-Mart’s operating company in the U.K.

Aflac Installs Herbert As SVP, Marketing Chief

NEW YORK Aflac said it has hired Jeff Herbert as svp, CMO, effective immediately. Herbert, 47, was most recently at the Zyman Group in Atlanta, where he was vp, marketing and business development. Before that, he worked at Coca-Cola, Kraft General Foods and Campbell Soup. Al Johnson, second vp, advertising and branding, will continue in that role, but now reports to Herbert. Herbert reports to Aflac COO Paul Amos II, and he will work closely with Ron Kirkland, svp, director of sales. In the new post, Herbert is in charge of U.S. operations strategy, advertising, product development, sponsorships and consumer research. Publicis’ Kaplan Thaler Group in New York has handled Aflac since 1999. Aflac spent about $75 million in U.S. media last year and $50 million through June 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Sony Tests Agencies’ Ideas For Global Assignment

NEW YORK At least four agencies are awaiting the test results of creative presentations they made to Sony executives within the last two weeks, sources said. WPP’s Berlin Cameron United and Young & Rubicam and IPG’s DraftFCB, all New York, and Publicis’ Fallon in London are among the shops that met with Sony for initial discussions two months ago, sources said. Fallon advertises Sony in Europe and Japan. The shops either could not be reached for comment or referred calls to Sony, where no representatives would immediately elaborate. Sources did not know the scope of the assignment beyond the client’s desire for a global concept and said projected spending was undetermined. Sony spent $145 million in U.S. media last year on its consumer electronics alone, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Local TV Remains No. 1 American News Source

NEW YORK More Americans still turn to local TV as their top news choice over all other media, according to a Radio and Television News Directors Foundation survey. When asked for their top three news sources, 65.5 percent named local TV, followed by local newspapers (28.5 percent), national network TV (28 percent), local radio (14.5 percent), the Internet (11 percent) and national newspapers (4 percent). More than 1,000 people age 18 and older participated in the telephone survey in April and May of this year. Almost 75 percent of the young adults said it was very or somewhat important to be able to watch TV news when they want. Given a choice, more than three-quarters said they’d rather watch news on TV than on a computer or mobile device. For those that have the choice, 60 percent chose traditional TV. By far, the No.1 suggestion respondents cited to make TV better was to show fewer commercials.

Barlow Heads to Detroit To Lead JWT’s Ford Creative

CHICAGO Toby Barlow, one of nine executive creative directors at WPP’s JWT in New York, is moving to Detroit to work on the Ford account, the shop said. Barlow replaces worldwide cd Tom Cordner as the top creative on the business; Cordner is leaving JWT to “pursue other opportunities.” Ford spent $1.6 billion last year on U.S. ads and more than $1 billion in the first seven months of 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. JWT worldwide president, CEO Bob Jeffrey said Barlow was a “natural choice” to direct creative development on the account, having built a relationship with Detroit president, CEO George Rogers and director of strategy Mike Bentley while helping craft Ford’s “Bold moves” campaign. Barlow will report to JWT N.Y. co-president and CCO Ty Montague.

Age Demos Are on the Rise At Social Networking Sites

NEW YORK As top social networking sites mature and become more popular, their visitor age profiles are also on the rise. More than 50 percent of all MySpace users are now over the age of 35, according to ComScore Media Metrix. That represents a sharp increase from 39 percent over 35 a year ago. The increase came at the expense of 12-17 year olds, whose attendance on the most popular social networking site was halved to 12 percent. MySpace’s audience quadrupled in the past year, and it still gained visitors in all other demographic groups. The data is unlikely to represent the actual regular user bases of the site, however. ComScore records unique audience participation, counting each “visit” equally, rather than quantifying users who make multiple visits. “What this speaks to is the broadness of the reach at this point,” said Andrew Lipsman, a ComScore analyst. He said the research firm would likely investigate the frequency of usage by various age groups in a follow-up report.

Comcast Offers Pols Digital Campaign Platform

NEW YORK Comcast is urging candidates in various state and local mid-term elections to take their stump speeches digital. Last week, the MSO’s ad sales unit, Comcast Spotlight, introduced Elections 2006, a video-on-demand initiative that allows candidates to expand their campaign messaging beyond the 30-second spot. Office seekers in some 70 Comcast markets can assemble VOD spots up to two minutes in length, in the hopes of better informing constituents and would-be voters in the days leading up to the November elections. Comcast said that in its mature markets more than 75 percent of its digital cable subscribers have accessed VOD in the past 90 days. Of that number, 80 percent are registered to vote in their district, while 45 percent reported that they always cast ballots in statewide elections.

BBH, StrawberryFrog Vie For PepsiCo’s SoBe Drinks

NEW YORK StrawberryFrog and Bartle Bogle Hegarty are vying for creative duties on SoBe, a PepsiCo brand that Publicis’ Fallon here previously handled, sources said. Fallon closed its New York office in September 2005, leaving SoBe without a lead agency. Each contender is pitching from its office here, with final presentations set for later this month, sources said. Independent StrawberryFrog, and BBH, 49 percent owned by Publicis, declined comment. Billings could not be ascertained. In the past, SoBe has spent $5-10 million annually in major measured media, including $8 million last year and $4 million through the first six months of 2006, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. One source expected ad spending to mirror past levels, while another observer predicted that expenditures would increase to about $20 million annually. SoBe, a unit of PepsiCo in Norwalk, Conn., did not return calls. PepsiCo acquired the brand in 2001. SoBe, which markets itself as “health refreshment” in the form of flavored teas, juice blends and energy drinks, competes with the likes of Snapple, Mad River and Red Bull.