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Carat Wins $400 Mil. Hyundai, Kia Media Business

CHICAGO—Aegis Group-owned Carat in New York has been tapped by Hyundai Motor Co. for the Korean auto maker’s estimated $400 million Hyundai/Kia Motors America U.S. media account, sources said. Carat beat independent Horizon Media in New York in the final round of a review. Incumbent Bates USA West in Irvine, Calif., was not invited to defend. Bates still handles creative for Hyundai. Kia’s media buying incumbent, Omnicom’s OMD in New York, also did not defend. Davidandgoliath in Los Angeles handles Kia’s creative account.

Ground Zero Shutters N.Y. Office

LOS ANGELES—Fifteen months after it opened, the New York office of Ground Zero Advertising has closed, agency president Andrew Gledhill confirmed. The outpost of the Marina del Rey, Calif.-based shop opened with the $5-10 million Voss bottled-water account and handled project work for ESPN and JetBlue Airlines. But it was unable to land other business. “The state of the New York market is miserable at the moment,” said Gledhilll. “When the market picks up and recovers itself, we’ll follow it.”

A-B Previews Super Bowl Spots; Taps Hill, Holliday

CHICAGO—Anheuser-Busch’s five minutes of commercial air time during Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3 will most likely feature a Clydesdale horse, Cedric the Entertainer, a robotic refrigerator and Dale Earnhardt Jr., said Bob Lachky, A-B’s vp of brand management and director of global brand creative. A responsible-drinking ad features Earnhardt as a designated driver. Another spot plays off the TV show Battlebots and features a mini-refrigerator duking it out with a robot. All four of the spots likely to air were created by lead agency DDB in Chicago. A-B is still considering what to place in the rest of its Super Bowl airtime. For the first time, the client is working with Hill, Holiday, Connors, Cosmospulos on a project basis. Hill, Holliday’s first spot, which features Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses, is under consideration for the Super Bowl, said Lachky. Several executives at Hill, Holliday had a relationship with A-B during their tenure at DDB, which prompted A-B to hire the agency, Lachky added.

Initiative Lays Off More Than 50 Staffers

LOS ANGELES—Interpublic Group’s Initiative Media North America is cutting what sources estimate to be more than 50 staffers nationwide—about 3 percent of its 1,600 U.S. workers—following the network’s loss of Walt Disney Co.’s $500 million media account to Starcom in Chicago. A representative would not confirm the number of people or the departments affected.

Account Activity

Saatchi & Saatchi has emerged as a late entrant in a Pizza Hut review that began in December, sources said. The New York shop was invited to participate two weeks ago, according to one source. The agency declined comment. Pizza Hut is seeking a second shop to handle new product advertising outside of its main agency, BBDO in New York. Creative pitches are scheduled for late February. The other finalists are New York shops Ogilvy & Mather and Cliff Freeman and Partners and Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore.