Hotlines: Late-Breaking Industry News

Roehm Responds to Wal-Mart Claims in New Court Filing

CHICAGO In a response to her former employer’s counterclaim of wrongful termination, Julie Roehm, Wal-Mart’s ex-svp, marketing communications, said the retailer’s ethics policy, which she was accused of violating by taking gifts from agencies competing for the store’s $570 million account last year, is selectively enforced. As evidence, she cited preferential treatment given to Wal-Mart president and CEO H. Lee Scott by Irwin Jacobs of Jacobs Trading Co., which purchases unsold Wal-Mart merchandise. Roehm also claimed that other executives at Wal-Mart—including evp, merchandising John Fleming, vp, marketing Steve Bratspies, and onetime vp, merchandising David Porter—violated company policy by flying to Spain to meet potential vendors and accepted tickets, backstage passes and souvenirs to an Eagles concert. She also repeated her denials of allegations that she had an improper personal relationship with Sean Womack, former vp, communications architecture, who was fired at the same time. In sum, Roehm asserted that Wal-Mart created a pretext for firing her “so that it can avoid difficult questions about its fundamental unwillingness to change its corporate culture and modernize its marketing strategies.”

Miller Awards Creative Duties On High Life Brand to Saatchi

NEW YORK Saatchi & Saatchi, a finalist for the Miller Lite account that Bartle Bogle Hegarty won two weeks ago, on Friday won creative duties on Miller High Life. Both brands came out of MDC’s Crispin Porter + Bogusky, which split with the client in March. To win Miller Lite, the Publicis-backed BBH bested sister shop Saatchi, both here, and WPP’s Young & Rubicam in Chicago. Last year, the Milwaukee-based brewer spent about $165 million in major measured media on Miller Lite and nearly $10 million on High Life, according to Nielsen-Monitor Plus. Saatchi here is expected to continue the “Take back the High Life” campaign that began last year. Ads in that campaign feature a deliveryman portrayed by Windell Middlebrooks. “Its authentic, unpretentious, no BS approach is working, and we aren’t going to alter that successful strategy,” said Saatchi New York CEO Mary Baglivo, “although we will look for ways to expand it further.”

At Least 6 Agencies Advance In $200 Mil. Census 2010 Pitch

WASHINGTON At least six of the seven agencies that responded to the RFP for the U.S. Census Bureau’s $200 million 2010 campaign have progressed to the oral presentation round, according to sources. Advancing are WPP units Ogilvy & Mather in New York, JWT in Atlanta and Young & Rubicam in New York; Omnicom’s GSD&M in Austin, Texas; and IPG shops DraftFCB in New York and Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., per sources. The status of SYColeman, an Arlington, Va.-based firm representing a consortium of 25 shops that would serve as sub-contractors on the business, could not be determined. Census officials confirmed extending offers to shops to participate in oral presentations in June. They declined to name the shops or say how many will participate. Agencies either declined comment or could not be reached. Y&R created the campaign for the 2000 Census. The government spent $100 million in measured media in 2000 for the campaign, per TNS Media Intelligence. The Census Bureau intends to select an agency by the end of August.

Aegis Shareholders Reject Bid From Bolloré for 4th Time

NEW YORK For the fourth time in the past year, Aegis Group shareholders last week rejected a proposal by Havas chairman and 29 percent Aegis shareholder Vincent Bolloré to gain a pair of seats on the Aegis board. Shareholders had already voted down the same proposal in June and November 2006 and April of this year. The results of all four votes were similar: Each time, more than 90 percent of the shares not controlled by Bolloré were pledged against the resolution. The most recent vote occurred last Friday at Aegis’ annual general meeting in London. At the meeting, Aegis updated shareholders on the company’s first-quarter performance, indicating revenue growth of 10.8 percent. The company said that digital services continue to be the fastest growing part of its business. The 2007 outlook remains “healthy,” the company said in a statement.

Contenders Vie for $30 Mil. Lincoln Financial Account

CHICAGO A handful of finalists—including incumbent Martin/Williams—are competing to handle creative and media duties on Lincoln Financial Group, the client confirmed last week. The Philadelphia-based company last year spent nearly $30 million in major measured media, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Martin/Williams, an Omnicom shop, has handled the business for 10 years. A client representative confirmed the review but declined to identify contenders beyond the incumbent. The process was triggered in part by last year’s merger of Lincoln National and Jefferson Pilot, which created the larger group, the rep said. Final presentations are scheduled for mid-June with a decision expected shortly thereafter. Recent work for the client includes a series of Web films that follow two characters, Robert and Sarah, as they plan for retirement.