Blamer, FCB North America Close to Inking Deal

NEW YORK Sources said last Friday that Steve Blamer, 47, president of Grey in New York, is close to accepting a new position as CEO of IPG’s Foote, Cone & Belding North America that would put him in line to succeed Brendan Ryan, 60, CEO of FCB Worldwide. Talks be- tween Blamer and FCB began several weeks ago, one source said, after Blamer had a “major falling out” with Grey chairman and CEO Ed Meyer over succession and other issues. Sources said IPG and Blamer were in negotiations late last week. Last week, one of FCB’s top three execs, vice chairman Charlie Taney, is leaving the agency effective Sept. 8, FCB rep Bill Haney confirmed. “We are in the process of adding to our executive ranks,” Haney said. “It hasn’t been decided whether or not [Taney] will be replaced.” Haney declined further comment.

Toyota Woos Young Men With $50-60 Mil. Solara Effort

NEW YORK Toyota this week breaks an estimated $50-60 million campaign for its redesigned 2004 Solara midsize coupe with the tagline, “Who can resist?” The TV, print, Internet and outdoor effort out of Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi in Torrance, Calif., is the first in about three years for the car, whose audience is 60 percent female with an average age of 42. The Solara SE Sport model stars in two initial TV spots. One opens on an urban street at night, replete with a row of classic muscle cars. A bright red SE Sport careens into the frame, lit by helicopter spotlights. As the car screams around the corner, the other vehicles come to life. Soon, all are opening and closing their doors to the beat. The frenzy peaks as the Solara is lifted by earthmovers, then set down. The car drives off, the music stops, the lights go off, and the street returns to normal.

Media Cap Imbroglio Resumes On Capitol Hill

Attempts to overturn the Federal Communication Commission’s loosened media-ownership rules resume this week in both the courts and Congress. The rules, adopted by the FCC on June 2, are to take effect Thursday. But critics will use a hearing Wednesday to ask the Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia to issue a stay against the new rules, which allow networks to own stations reaching 45 percent of homes with TVs. And the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected this week to consider whether to follow the House of Representatives in limiting TV network size. A Senate move to follow the House in returning that level to 35 percent could set the stage for a showdown with President Bush, who has said he would use his first veto to preserve the higher national TV cap.

Grey’s First Kmart Work Touts Store as ‘Hip’

NEW YORK Grey agencies are working on a Kmart campaign expected to be on air sometime in October, sources said. The New York agencies, with help from Carol H. Williams, an African-American agency in Oakland, Calif., won a shootout against IPG’s Campbell-Ewald in Warren, Mich., for the estimated $270 million creative and media account. Sources said the holiday shopping season may be crucial to Kmart’s long-term survival as it emerges from Chapter 11. The new campaign will position Kmart as a hip shopping destination because of proprietary brands such as Joe Boxer and Route 66, said sources. The client had partnered with Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day in New York for three years until the agency resigned the business in July amid legal disputes that involved unpaid bills to the agency. The matter was settled out of court.

Taxi TV Vendors Fight End to NYC Pilot Program

NEW YORK Five vendors of in-taxi programming lost their bid last Friday to stay the termination of the Taxi TV program, begun here in September. The companies sought a temporary restraining order against the Taxi and Limousine Commission on the grounds that although the pilot program officially ends on Sunday, the TLC violated a verbal agreement to continue the program through March, said attorney Robert Borsody. The vendors must now discontinue the programming on Sunday. The vendors will seek to reinstate the program in New York State Supreme Court on Friday, Borsody said. Among the advertisers who had bought time on in-taxi programming are Cingular Wireless and American Express.