Novartis Cuts to 3 for $250 Mil. Media Account

LOS ANGELES—Novartis has narrowed to three shops for its $250 million global media consolidation, sources said. Making the cut: WPP’s MindShare, one of the East Hanover, N.J.-based client’s incumbents; Bcom3’s MediaVest; and the team of Omnicom’s two media networks, Creative Media and OMD, all in New York, according to sources. The two other incumbents, Publicis’ Optimedia, New York, and Interpublic Group’s Initiative Media North America, Los Angeles, did not advance. Consultant Dave Braun of Westport, Conn., is overseeing the search.

Grey to Handle USPS Assignment

NEW YORK—Grey last week was tapped to create a commercial for the U.S. Postal Service to run until the end of the year, sources said. Leo Burnett in Chicago handles the corporate-image portion of the USPS ad account, which has seven components and six other roster shops. “They’re hanging by a thread,” a source said of Leo Burnett’s relationship with USPS. Burnett’s “We’re everywhere so you can be anywhere” campaign was pulled last month in response to the anthrax crisis, a client representative said. As for Grey, the representative said the agency “will be doing some projects, but they are not taking over the branding management from Leo Burnett.” Grey’s MediaCom handles media duties for USPS. Grey and Leo Burnett declined comment. USPS spends an estimated $120 million on corporate-image ads.

Agency Honchos Huddle With WPP Boss

NEW YORK—Top executives from J. Walter Thompson, Young & Rubicam and Ogilvy & Mather gathered in West chester County last week for an annual confab with parent company boss Martin Sorrell, sources said. The meetings, which were scheduled over parts of three days, were described as strategy sessions, in which the executives outlined recent agency accomplishments and goals for the coming year. They also submitted three-year plans, which included revenue projections, said sources.

Wahl Jumps From Ford to Toyota

DETROIT—Deborah Wahl, marketing communications manager for Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln Mercury division in Irvine, Calif., has left the company for a similar post at Toyota Motor Sales USA, a Lincoln Mercury representative confirmed. No replacement has been named. Wahl is assuming the new position of corporate manager, marketing communications, reporting to Steve Sturm, Toyota Motor Sales USA’s vp of marketing, a Toyota rep said.

Account Activity

Five agencies have advanced in the review for Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ $20-30 million ad account, sources said. They include New York shops Deutsch, Saatchi & Saatchi and Young & Rubicam, according to sources. The agencies declined comment and the client could not be reached. Incumbent DDB is not defending. … Reebok is shifting an ad assignment from Bartle Bogle Hegarty to Arnell Group. Billings are estimated at $5-10 million. The shift comes as advertising manager John Wardley leaves the Canton, Mass., company. Wardley resigned last week, sources said. A BBH representative confirmed the shift. Reebok and Arnell could not be reached.