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4 Advance in Race for TGI Friday's $40 Mil. Account

DALLAS—TGI Friday's has narrowed its agency search to four finalists, sources said. Among those advancing in the $40 million review are Deutsch/LA in Marina del Rey, Calif.; McCann-Erickson in New York; and TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif.; as well as incumbent Publicis in Mid-America in Dallas. About seven other shops contacted by the client did not advance, including Fallon in Minneapolis, Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners in New York and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va. The Dallas-based chain plans to make a selection in December. Los Angeles consultancy Select Resources International, which is managing the review, could not be reached.

Richards Exits $25-30 Mil. 7-Eleven Review

DALLAS—The Richards Group has dropped out of the running for the $25-30 million 7-Eleven account. One source said the move came after the client gave Richards a discouraging view of its chances. Normally the Dallas-based agency, which has handled projects for 7-Eleven, does not defend its accounts in review. Said Richards principal Brad Todd, "This was kind of different because we had a multiple-agency format in our relationship with 7-Eleven … but we netted out the same way. We think it's in our best interest not to participate." Among the other shops contending are GSD&M in Austin, Texas, and the New York offices of TBWA\Chiat\Day, Wieden + Kennedy and Deutsch.

$500 Mil. Sony Review Decision Looms

LOS ANGELES—Sony Corp. will hear final presentations next week for its $500 million-plus U.S. media consolidation business with a decision to come "very quickly after that," sources said. Finalists are Interpublic Group's Universal McCann, the incumbent on Sony Pictures; Bcom3's Starcom MediaVest Group and Omnicom's Arnell Group. The presentations will focus on details such as who would work on the business, fees, what office the Sony business would be handled out of, and how contenders would handle potential conflicts within their corporate family, said one executive. Omnicom's OMD network is responsible for Universal Studios and MGM media, and Universal McCann handles media for Microsoft, whose Xbox game console competes with Sony's PlayStation. SMG-unit Starcom is also in the ongoing Walt Disney Co. media review; its sister shop Leo Burnett in Chicago handles Nintendo. The pitches, which cap a search that began in February, will be attended by executives from Sony's international operations, said one source.

Sony Pictures Cuts Exclusive Deal With Fox

LOS ANGELES—Backing up what will be one of its most ambitious release schedules in several years, Sony Pictures has bought all the theatrical avails for the Super Bowl Sunday broadcast of the Fox show Malcolm in the Middle. The deal for Super Sunday on Feb. 3 is a package that includes "at least" nine 30-second spots, including all the Malcolm category avails and other spots during the day, said a source. Sony created the package, which was negotiated and bought by the studio's media shop, Universal McCann, New York and Los Angeles. In 2002, Sony will launch several pictures, including sequels to Men In Black and Stuart Little, as well as the summer release of its much anticipated Spider-Man.

McCann Picks Up Kroger Work

DETROIT—Kroger selected McCann-Erickson to handle advertising for its Southeastern Michigan division. Doner in Southfield, Mich., split with the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain in October, citing strategic and financial differences. Kroger uses different shops to handle advertising in its various regions. Spending for the Southeastern Michigan division could not be determined, but Kroger spent $120 million on ads in the U.S. last year, according to CMR. McCann Detroit, teaming with its retail unit McCann/Jay, will handle all creative development, as well as media buying and planning, said Garry Neel, evp and managing director at McCann Detroit.

Pant Rises to Chief Marketer at Reebok

BOSTON—Micky Pant has been promoted to chief marketing officer of Reebok, succeeding Angel Martinez, who announced his departure this summer. Pant has been with Reebok for seven years, most recently as svp/global marketing services. Prior to that, he served in a senior marketing role at PepsiCo. Pant's vacated position will not be filled, a Reebok representative said, nor are any agency reviews or changes planned. The Canton, Mass., client, which spends more than $100 million annually on ads, two weeks ago expanded its relationship with Arnell Group, awarding the New York shop its Classics footwear line previously at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, and some men's business that had been with Berlin Cameron & Partners. Arnell also works on Rockport.

DirectDeutsch Taps Steinhaus, Fedoris

NEW YORK—Claudia Steinhaus and Paula Fedoris were hired as svp, group account director and vp, data strategy, respectively, at directDeutsch in New York, effective immediately. Steinhaus, 42, will work on direct business for Pfizer's Zyrtec brand. She previously was an independent consultant. Prior to that, until 1999, she was svp, group management director at Foote, Cone & Belding in New York and San Francisco. Fedoris, 38, will work on all of directDeutsch's accounts. She previously was vp, customer information management at New York's Goldman Sachs & Co.

For the Record
GlaxoSmithKline reassigned its Citrucel account to Arnold McGrath in New York, not Arnold in Boston, as reported [Adweek East and New England, Nov. 19].