ABC Will Air '9/11' Despite Criticism, but Without Ads
NEW YORK The ABC docudrama The Path to 9/11 was still in the editing room late Friday as the network pondered changes amid a barrage of criticism that the two-part program (scheduled to air Sept. 10-11) was biased and inaccurate. Initially, the program was to have run with "limited" commercial interruptions, but three weeks ago, with no advertisers signed on and word spreading about controversial scenes, the network decided it would run commerical-free. The program takes the Clinton and Bush administrations to task for failing to adequately deal with the terrorist threat that culminated in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Former president Bill Clinton and members of his adminstration lodged protests with the network, demanding it correct inaccuracies or pull the program. One scene, in which former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger hangs up on a CIA official who is trying to get clearance to kill Osama bin Laden, was singled out as both wrong and defamatory. While it acknowledged that edits were being considered, ABC would not comment on specific changes and was standing by the program, saying last week that it would air as scheduled.
InterActiveCorp Shifts Ask.com, Eyes Media Consolidation
NEW YORK IPG's Mullen is in negotiations to add media duties on InterActiveCorp's Ask.com amid a review of media chores on that brand and two others owned by IAC and already handled by Mullen: LendingTree.com and Match.com, sources said. The goal was to consolidate the brands at a single shop, according to sources. Combined major media spending on the brands totaled about $180 million last year and $145 million through the first half of 2006, per TNS Media Intelligence. Omnicom's OMD in San Francisco is the media incumbent on Ask.com. OMD also contended for the business but withdrew last week, influenced in part by IAC's decision to shift creative duties for Ask.com out of sister shop TBWA\Chiat\Day, leaving Mullen's MediaHub unit as the sole contender, said sources. Separately, IAC is in talks to move Ask.com's creative chores from Omnicom's TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco to MDC's Crispin Porter + Bogusky in Miami, per sources. Ask.com spent more than $25 million in U.S. media last year and nearly $40 million through the first half of 2006, per TNS. Agency reps declined comment, and the client could not immediately be reached.
Warner Bros. Debuts Division To Produce Branded Content
NEW YORK The Warner Bros. Television Group has formed a division to create short-form branded content for broadband and mobile platforms. The new venture, Studio 2.0, will jointly develop and produce content with brand marketers. Commercial producer and former ad agency executive Rich Rosenthal will head the division, which will be overseen by WBTVG evp Craig Hunegs. Rosenthal comes from Young & Rubicam, where he most recently served as head of production and evp. Studio 2.0 gives WBTVG a creative "laboratory" where its on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent can innovate digital ad-embedded content, said Hunegs. Rosenthal will be based in New York.
Initiative Redefines Spengler's Role to Focus on 'Digital Age'
NEW YORK Initiative North America has restructured its buying operations, naming Tim Spengler to the new post of chief activation officer, responsible for most media buying activities, including network TV, local broadcast, magazines and online. Spengler had been evp, national broadcast. He now reports to Richard Beaven, CEO of the shop's North American operations. Previously, he reported to global CEO Alex Gerster. The restructuring is designed to help the shop "adapt to what is now a digital age," Spengler said.
Final pitches for the creative portion of XM Satellite Radio's $50 million account were held last week. A decision is expected this week. Finalists are IPG's Lowe, Omnicom's DDB and Wieden + Kennedy, all New York, and The Richards Group in Dallas. ... Final pitches were also heard last week for creative duties on Progressive's $150-200 million account.
LOS ANGELES Miles Turpin is returning to California as a senior vice president and creative director on Land Rover at Young & Rubican Brands, Irvine, the agency confirmed. The ex-Saatchi & Saatchi group creative director on Toyota was let go along with four other group creatives in December, 2004, despite having been instrumental to several Clio, One Show, and Cannes Lion award-winning campaigns, including a "Pimp My Ride" integrated marketing push for Corolla. Turpin was most recently at Omnicom's Energy BBDO in Chicago, where he'd worked on the Wrigley's Doublemint gum brand. The agency said Turpin starts today.