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OMD Picks Up H&R Block, The CW Network for $150 Mil. Day

NEw YoRK Omnicom Group's OMD scored an estimated $150 million in combined business from tax services firm H&R Block and nascent TV network The CW, the clients confirmed. Both accounts were awarded last Friday. Block, with estimated annual ad spending of $100 million, has selected OMD to handle media planning and buying after a review. IPG's Campbell Mithun successfully defended creative duties after a review completed last month, but surrendered media chores. Separately, OMD won media duties on the CW network, which debuts this fall, combining select shows from The WB and UPN. Each network spent $25 million apiece on ads last year. (The combined CW is likely to spend at least $50 million in measured media, per sources.) The CW win puts OMD back in the network TV business after losing both ABC and HBO earlier this year.



Draft-FCB Merger Talks To Conclude In Coming Weeks

NEW YORK IPG in the next few weeks will decide whether to merge or in some other way combine Draft and Foote Cone & Belding, IPG CEO Michael Roth told industry analysts last week. In his only public comments on the potential merger to date, Roth said FCB and Draft "could be doing even better with access and capabilities or geographic reach that the other would bring to the table." He further described the shops' offerings as "highly complementary," adding that the "heads of both agencies came to us independently to surface the possibility of a closer working relationship." That said, the prospect for client conflicts is the "most significant mitigating factor in whether we go forward or not," Roth said. His remarks came during a conference call about IPG's results for the first quarter.



Publicis Taps Hider as Director Of Engagement Strategy

NEW YORK Publicis USA has hired Mark Hider as its evp, director of engagement strategy, a new position. Hider, 52, was most recently CEO of London-based agency Imagination, but has been based in New York for the past five years as he set up that shop's U.S. and Canadian operations. In his new role, which he begins today, he will work across various accounts and report to Publicis North America CEO Susan Gianinno.



Progressive Contacts Shops On $150-200 Million Account

NEW YORK The Progressive Corp. initially contacted approximately 15 agencies about its estimated $150-200 million creative account, which incumbent Doner in Southfield, Mich., is not defending, sources said. Those shops submitted basic credentials information in the form of a "fact sheet" that was due back by the end of last week, said sources. Based on the fact sheet information, the Mayfield Village, Ohio, client will issue an RFP to up to a dozen shops in the next week or so, according to sources. A decision is expected by September. New York consultancy Roth Associates is managing the search.



Shell's Jiffy Lube Reviews $25 Million Creative Account

NEW YORK Shell's Jiffy Lube last week launched a review of its creative account now at independent MMB in Boston. Billings are estimated at $25 million. MMB, which has handled the business since 2001, is defending, and the Houston-based client has hired New York consultancy Roth Associates to manage the search. Jiffy Lube's current campaign features consumer testimonials and continues to use the tagline, "Well-oiled machine." The client, which could not be reached, hopes to select an agency by August. Roth did not return calls.



Miller Keeps $300 Mil. Media Chores With Starcom

NEW YORK Starcom has retained media chores on Miller Brewing's U.S. ad account following a review, the client confirmed. The Publicis agency in Chicago overcame Aegis' Carat in New York to win the business, per sources. Miller had cut WPP's MindShare from its estimated $300 million media review after hearing presentations [Adweek Online, April 17]. The review was managed by Roth Associates in New York.



NEW YORK Questionnaires were due back last Thursday in Bridgestone Firestone's review of its $25 million broadcast creative and media account, sources said. Among the shops returning it were WPP incumbents Grey and MediaCom, WPP's Berlin Cameron United, Publicis' Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi, Omnicom's DDB and Merkley + Partners, all in New York, Omnicom's Martin/Williams in Minneapolis, Havas' Arnold in Boston, Energy BBDO in Chicago, independent The Richards Group in Dallas, and WPP's JWT in Atlanta, sources said. A cut to semifinalists is expected in early June and the client will hear final presentations in mid-July, followed by a decision shortly thereafter, said sources. Boston consultancy Pile + Co., which is managing the process, declined comment.



Electrolux Appliances Leave Lowe For DDB, Prometheus

NEW YORK Electrolux is shifting U.S. creative and media duties on its major home appliances to the New York offices of Omnicom shops DDB and Prometheus, respectively. Previously, the business was at IPG's's Lowe in New York. The brands include Electrolux and Frigidaire and the shift takes effect June 1, according to a rep at Electrolux Major Appliances North America in Augusta, Ga. Major media spending on those appliances exceeded $7 million last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Lowe remains global lead agency on Electrolux, handling ad duties outside the U.S. Separately, Electrolux is "reviewing its agency options" on its namesake vacuum cleaner business in the U.S., another assignment at Lowe. DDB is not believed to be in line for that account. In a statement, the client said a new shop will be named soon. Electrolux vacuum cleaner spending was nearly $5 million last year, per Nielsen.