IPG Moves to Settle Two Shareholder Lawsuits

NEW YORK IPG’s share price closed up 1 percent Friday, to $14.50, following news that the holding company agreed to settle a federal lawsuit in New York alleging that investors were misled about a $181.3 million accounting imbalance. IPG also is close to resolving a similar state-court suit in Illinois. The cost of settling both actions is estimated at $115 million. IPG said $95 million of that will be paid in stock, which will require the issuance of 6.5 million shares. The remaining $20 million will be paid in cash. The New York settlement must still be approved by U.S. District Court judge Denise Cote. The Illinois suit was brought by former True North Communications shareholders, who claimed IPG misled them about its financial health before buying TN in 2001.

Banking Client Re-Examines Global Marketing Duties

NEW YORK London-based HSBC Group is assessing its media, marketing and ad agencies in what sources described as a prelude to at least one global review next year. Sources said the bank spends about $600-700 million annually on all marketing efforts. First to come under scrutiny are media duties, handled primarily by Publicis’ Zenith Media, and the direct marketing and collateral business, divvied up among hundreds of shops worldwide, said sources. IPG’s Lowe is the lead global agency on creative; former CCG shop Bates, now owned by WPP, has business in Asia and Europe. Sources said the assessment stems from a desire to consolidate the below-the-line tasks as well as WPP’s acquisition of CCG earlier this year. An HSBC rep denied plans for a review but would not elaborate. The agencies either declined comment or could not be reached.

Mazda 3 Seeks Young Male Match for Sporty Entry

LOS ANGELES Doner’s launch campaign for the new Mazda 3, which will break in cinemas Dec. 26, aims the car at a younger, male and possibly first-time-buyer target, said creative director Mike Belitsos. TV executions out of Doner’s Newport Beach, Calif., shop break on New Year’s Eve during Fox’s America’s Party. The campaign features a man standing by a desert road who gets picked up by a Mazda 3. After he takes the wheel, a sports-package model pulls alongside, driven by a sportier version of himself. “Two cars, the same but different—kind of like those twins I met in Chicago,” he says to himself. “Zoom, zoom” plays under a new but temporary tagline, “Rethink what’s possible.”

Staff Cuts Expected at Saatchi in New York

NEW YORK Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi is expected to lay off 40 to 60 New York staffers this week in the wake of losing $200 million in Johnson & Johnson business, sources said. That amounts to a 6-9 percent staff cut. About 50 employees touched J&J brands such as Tylenol, Mylanta, Pepcid and St. Joseph aspirin.

AOL, Masterfoods Reviews Get Under Way

LOS ANGELES AOL last week sent criteria for its $300 million consolidation search to Publicis’ Optimedia, Omnicom’s OMD, WPP’s Mediaedge:cia, all New York; and Publicis’ Starcom MediaVest Group in Chicago, sources said. Incumbent IPG’s Initiative Media in New York is defending. The one-page document limits the search to agencies with U.S. billings of at least $3 billion and cites general requirements such as relevant experience, strategic partnerships, media innovation and staffing. AOL declined comment. Also last week, Masterfoods heard credential presentation for its $350 million U.S. media planning and buying consolidation, sources said. Contending are the incumbents: Grey’s MediaCom; independent Mediaedge:cia; MediaVest; and OMD, sources said. The client was unavailable.

Publicis’ Charmin Spot Tapped For P&G’s Super Bowl Debut

NEW YORK Publicis in New York won a Super Bowl berth from Procter & Gamble with a Charmin spot that shows a quarterback distracted by a piece of toilet paper hanging from the center’s waistband. The spot later reveals that the Charmin bear replaced the center’s towel with Charmin Ultra. The 30-second spot is tagged, “Softer and stronger for your end zone.” P&G chose Charmin over spots for Crest (via Saatchi & Saatchi), Swiffer (The Kaplan Thaler Group) and Prilosec (also Publicis). A Pringles spot that launches a new flavor called Fiery Hot is due to break after the game on Survivor: All Stars.