Hotlines: Late Industry News

Berlin Cameron United Wins Heineken’s $80 Mil. Business

BOSTON Heineken USA last week said it tapped Berlin Cameron United as lead agency on its Heineken Lager and Heineken Premium Light brands, bringing to a conclusion a drawn-out review process that began last June. WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron in New York was the last contender standing in the contest for the estimated $80 million assignment following the exit of Wieden + Kennedy last week. Wieden, pitching from its headquarters in Portland, Ore., cited “strategic differences.” Berlin Cam-eron was the incumbent on HPL, which it landed in December 2005 and launched in March 2006. Publicis USA’s New York office had handled Heineken and Amstel Light since 2003 and was cut from an earlier round of the review in December.

Virgin Selects Havas’ McKinney To Handle Creative Account

NEW YORK Virgin Mobile said it has awarded its estimated $30 million creative account to McKinney, a Havas-owned agency in Durham, N.C. “McKinney best demonstrated they understand the Virgin Mobile brand and how to build on our current momentum, and we’re excited to have them as our partners,” said Howard Handler, CMO at Virgin Mobile USA, in a statement. Independent Mother, a New York agency, handled the business. Mother had declined an invitation to defend.

Karmazin on Sirius-XM Merger: ‘Abolutely Not a Monopoly’

WASHINGTON By the time the two-hour, 20-minute congressional hearing into the proposed $13 billion Sirius-XM Satellite Radio merger ended last Wednesday afternoon, Mel Karmazin was getting a little hot under the collar trying to drive home the message to legislators that the company left standing after Sirius and XM merge will not be a monopoly. He said it many ways and many times, including at least once where some frustration finally began to show. “We are absolutely not a monopoly,” the Sirius CEO said. The word had been used by almost every one of the panelists on the newly formed Antitrust Task Force chaired by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

Publicis Reports 15% Increase In Net Income, Revenue Up 5.5%

BOSTON Publicis Groupe reported net income of $585 million, a 15 percent rise over the previous year. The Paris-based holding company several weeks ago had reported a more than 6 percent rise in 2006 revenue to nearly $6 billion. In organic terms, excluding currency fluctuations and the impact of acquisitions, revenue rose 5.5 percent last year compared to 2005. The company’s operating margin improved to 16.3 percent from 15.7 percent. CEO and chairman Maurice Lévy in a statement called the results, “Further confirmation of the effectiveness of the strategy we have pursued over recent years.”

Nets Tweak Commercial Breaks To Better Engage Viewers

NEW YORK As advertisers and agencies move towards using commercial ratings in buying spots, the TV industry is changing how it positions those commercials to engage the audience leading in and out of ad breaks in prime-time programs. According to a study by TNS Media Intelligence, a growing proportion of one-hour programs are now formatted to push back the first ad break. In addition, a significant proportion of one-hour telecasts are positioning the last ad break to leave more time for a meaningful post-break scene to conclude the episode and lead into the next show.

IPG Narrows Net Loss, But ’06 Revenue Was Flat

NEW YORK Interpublic Group last week reported a net loss of $31.7 million for 2006, as revenue fell 1 percent to $6.19 billion. The loss represented a significant improvement over IPG’s net loss of nearly $263 million for 2005.

Still, the holding company ended the year slightly more than half as big as Omnicom Group, which reported $11.4 billion in revenue, and WPP Group, with about $11 billion. IPG still ranks ahead of No. 4 holding company Publicis Groupe, which ended last year at $5.78 billion in revenue.

TNS Acquires Cymfony To Track Brand Buzz Online

NEW YORK TNS Media Intelligence is branching into the growing field of online buzz tracking with the purchase of Cymfony. Watertown, Mass.-based Cymfony collects data on how brands are viewed in both traditional outlets and consumer-generated media, including message boards, blogs and social networks. Its clients include top pharmaceutical companies, Home Depot and Southwest Airlines. The acquisition is the latest sign of new consumer media sources complementing traditional media. Terms were not disclosed.

CBS Lures Google Executive To Lead Digital Efforts for Net

NEW YORK CBS said it has hired one of Google’s top sales executives to help lead its Web efforts. Patrick Keane will be evp, chief marketing officer of CBS Interactive, the division set up to house the network’s digital media efforts. His focus is to help CBS determine the best way to use new digital distribution platforms to monetize its content. He will also craft advertising sales strategy and lead online research, reporting and analytics. “Patrick Keane brings rare business intelligence and a wealth of relationships that will help us monetize all future platform opportunities,” said Quincy Smith, president of CBS Interactive. “He is widely considered an industry expert in online distribution and marketing, and his transition to an audience company like CBS is a testament to our commitment to partner with technology companies worldwide.” At Google, Keane directed advertising sales strategy, reporting to vp, advertising Tim Armstrong. Like nearly all media companies, CBS is eyeing several ways to capitalize on the growth of digital distribution systems, including Google’s. It has experimented with distributing content through Google’s YouTube, and executives have claimed the videos have improved TV ratings.