SEC Upgrades Inquiry Into IPG

NEW YORK—The Securities and Exchange Commission has upgraded its inquiry into the Interpublic Group to a formal investigation of IPG’s previously announced restatement of earnings for the five years ended June 2002. IPG said it has been “fully cooperating” with the SEC and will continue to do so in order to bring the inquiry to a prompt close.

Anheuser-Bush to Debut 11 Spots During Super Bowl

SAN FRANCISCO—Eleven new 30-second Anheuser-Busch commercials from five shops will debut during the Super Bowl, mostly for Bud Light. Five spots from DDB in Chicago will include three for Bud Light. One storyline features a man, his dog and a bar. A Budweiser spot from Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston shows the Clydesdales waiting for a game play to be reviewed. A spot from Fusion Idea lab in Chicago introduces the Budweiser themeline “Think Fresh. Drink Fresh.”

Capital One Selects Semifinalists

NEW YORK—Capital One has cut to semifinalists in its $170 million creative review, sources said. The shops include IPG’s McCann-Erickson in New York and The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.; Omnicom Group’s Element 79 in Chicago; and Publicis Groupe’s The Kaplan Thaler Group in New York, said sources. The fate of two others—Grey Global Group’s Grey and WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, both in New York—could not be determined.

Lowe, Draft Discuss Possible Synergies

NEW YORK—Two IPG shops—Lowe and DraftWorldwide—are exploring ways to share resources that would further diversify Lowe’s client offering and bolster Draft’s overseas operation, said sources. Lowe worldwide CEO Jerry Judge and Draft worldwide CEO Howard Draft have been in talks since last summer, sources said. Judge, Draft and IPG declined comment.

Saatchi’s Roberts Reorganizes Top N.Y. Management

NEW YORK—Saatchi & Saatchi worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts is reorganizing top management at the New York office, reducing the number of managing partners from six to four and bringing in Scott Gilbert, CEO of Saatchi’s Los Angeles office, as one of the four. On May 1, Gilbert, 49, will transfer to New York to manage “day-to-day operations,” the Publicis shop said. Gilbert will carry the same title as current managing partners Mike Burns, Tom Lom and Tod Seisser. All four will continue to report to Roberts. Saatchi has not yet replaced Gilbert in L.A.

Account Activity

GlobalHue has picked up an estimated $10 million in business from Allied Domecq Spirits USA. The agency is forming an alliance with Russell Simmons, who will work in a yet-to-be-determined post at GlobalHue on the business, sources said. … E*Trade Financial has called off its search; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners will continue to handle its $40 million account, the client confirmed. … Visa’s review of its $50-60 million creative account for Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East has narrowed to two finalists: Lowe; and incumbent Saatchi, said sources. Another round of meetings is expected.