Mail Boxes Etc. Launches Review for $20 Mil. Work

LOS ANGELES—Mail Boxes Etc. is seeking a new ad agency for its $20 million creative and media account, which includes creative and media buying chores. Ogilvy & Mather in Los Angeles had handled creative work for the San Diego, Calif.-based postal retail center chain for the past two years, while Ogilvy’s sister shop MindShare handled media buying.

R.J. Palmer Keeps $25 Mil. Siemens Media

NEW YORK—Siemens Corp. has decided to keep its estimated $25 million media account at New York-based incumbent R.J. Palmer. Publicis sister media network, Optimedia in New York, also competed in the media review, launched after a creative search won by Publicis in New York last month.

HMS, Fahlgren Halt Talks

CHICAGO—The proposed merger of HMS Partners and Fahlgren has been derailed, with talks stalled over the direction the combined company would take, HMS CEO Rick Milenthal said. The two Columbus, Ohio-based shops had signed a letter of intent for a merger in late January that would have folded Fahlgren into HMS/Hallmark. A memo sent to HMS employees said talks were ended over differences that included “reporting relationships, vision for the future, common values and a common point of view on how to operating a growing, profitable company.”

WPP Revenue Rises 37 Percent

NEW YORK—WPP Group saw revenue rise 37 percent last year, to $4.5 billion worldwide, according to preliminary results for 2000 released last week. The London-based parent company of Young & Rubicam, J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather also reported net new billings of $4.5 billion—a 15 percent increase from $3.9 billion in 1999. Operating margins also grew, from 13.4 percent to 14 percent, as projected.

Lowe Lintas Bows New Sprite Work

NEW YORK—Lowe Lintas & Partners has launched a new TV campaign for Sprite that retains the “Obey your thirst” tagline but little else. Six spots feature teens who rap about their lives, telling stories that tie into product attributes such as “crisp” and “not too sweet.” Previous work starred NBA All-Star Kobe Bryant.

McDonald’s Gets New Marketing Chief

CHICAGO—McDonald’s USA promoted Tom Ryan, svp of menu management/new concepts, to svp of marketing; he replaces Larry Zwain. Ryan, who joined McDonald’s in 1997, will also retain his menu management duties. Zwain was named svp/relationship partner for McDonald’s within the Asia/Pacific/Middle East/Africa Group for the Oak Brook, Ill.-based restaurant chain. Under Zwain, McDonald’s launched its “We love to see you smile” campaign from DDB in Chicago, which shares ad agency duties for McDonald’s with Leo Burnett.

2 Ford Execs Join Chrysler Group

DETROIT—Two Ford marketing executives are joining DaimlerChrysler. Jim Schroer, formerly Ford’s vp of global marketing, joins the Chrysler Group as evp of global sales and marketing. George Murphy, formerly Ford Division general marketing manager, comes on as svp, global brand marketing. One reason Schroer left Ford was the long-standing friction with Bob Rewey, the automaker’s top marketing executive, who was supposed to have retired last December, sources said. At Ford, no replacements for Schroer or Murphy have been named, said a Ford representative. A possible candidate for Murphy’s position, sources said, is Jan Klug, marketing communications manager for Ford Division.

Newswire Roundup

Euro RSCG has acquired a majority stake in Black Rocket, a San Francisco-based agency that works with such clients as Yahoo! and MTV International. The agency will be renamed Black Rocket Euro RSCG. … Interpublic Group’s Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos has reached an agreement to acquire SF Interactive. Terms were undisclosed; the deal is expected to close in April.The SF Interactive name will be discontinued; the shop’s operations will be merged with GMO/Hill, Holliday, San Francisco. … Mohegan Sun Casino is considering six semifinalists for its ad account held for five years by Mintz & Hoke. Along with the Avon, Conn., incumbent, pitching are Holland Mark Advertising in Boston, Deutsch, in Boston and New York, and New York shops Cliff Freeman and Partners, Margeotes|Fertitta + Partners and Merkley Newman Harty. Spending by the Uncasville, Conn., clients was $7 million in each of the past two years, per Competitive Media Reporting. The budget will likely increase in 2000. Pile and Co. here is overseeing the review. … Playtex Apparel heard presentations last week from four shops competing for its $12 million account, a company rep said. The Westport, Conn.-based unit of Sara Lee split with DDB Chicago in January. … Earle Palmer Brown’s Philadelphia office won creative and media duties in the $10 million Comcast Business Communications review. There was no incumbent. … Cox Communications has cut the finalists for its $20 million creative account to Doner in Southfield, Mich.; Martin/Williams in Minneapolis; Cramer-Krasselt in Chicago; and Trone Advertising in Greensboro, N.C., sources said. RedDragon Consulting in Atlanta is handling the review … ConAgra has begun contacting agencies in advance of sending out an RFP in March for an undisclosed new meat product. The account is said to be worth $20 million. Nonroster shops are being included in the search process, which is being handled by the company’s Irvine, Calif., marketing office.