Fudge to Leave Top Role At Y&R Brands by Year’s End

NEW YORK Ann Fudge, chairman and CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands, is vacating that role nearly six months after Hamish McLennan replaced her as worldwide CEO of Y&R. She’s expected to leave on Dec. 31. Fudge, a former division president at Kraft Foods, joined the WPP agency network in May 2003 to lead both Y&R and Y&R Brands, a multidisciplinary group that includes Y&R, Wunderman, Burson-Marsteller, Landor Associates and Sudler & Hennessey. Her predecessor, Mike Dolan, also held the dual roles. Going forward, the group position is not expected to be filled in part because each shop already has a CEO. Y&R said Fudge, 55, is retiring and “no immediate successor is planned at this time.”

Panasonic’s $75 Mil. European Biz Goes to StrawberryFrog

NEW YORK StrawberryFrog has won Panasonic’s estimated $75 million pan-European advertising account, according to sources. The agency will develop campaigns for the Viera line of LCD plasma TVs and Lumix digital cameras. The independent shop will handle the assignment out of its office in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Panasonic did not return calls.

Euro RSCG Wins Circuit City TV Creative Assignment

BOSTON Circuit City said last week it would award its U.S. broadcast creative account to Havas’ Euro RSCG in Chicago. The Richmond, Va., client split with its former shop, Doner, earlier this year, sources said. Its broadcast creative media spend is about $150 million. IPG’s deutschMedia won media planning duties for that business during the summer following a review.

BBH Tapped for $15-20 Mil. NYC Tourism Account

NEW YORK New York City last week selected Bartle Bogle Hegarty here to help drive tourism through marketing, sources said. Estimated billings are $15-20 million. BBH, which is 49 percent owned by Publicis Groupe, competed against the New York offices of IPG’s Lowe and Havas’ Arnold, sources said. Through marketing efforts, the city hopes to top 50 million annual visitors by 2015. This year, some 43 million tourists are expected to visit New York. George Fertitta, former chairman of Margeotes Fertitta Powell here, spearheaded the review. He assumed his new role in June after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg consolidated three departments and put Fertitta in charge. The client did not return calls.

Merkley Recasts in Account Planning, New Business

NEW YORK Omnicom’s Merkley + Partners last week named Stacey Lesser and Morgan Shorey to lead account planning and business development, succeeding Douglas Atkin and Lou Killeffer, respectively. Lesser, the new director of strategic planning, had worked under Atkin as a brand strategy director. Shorey, who becomes CMO, formerly was an svp in charge of worldwide strategic growth initiatives at IPG’s Foote, Cone & Belding in New York. Atkin, who joined Merkley in 1998 and became a partner and chief strategy officer, is leaving Dec. 31 to launch a brand consultancy called Herbert in New York. Killeffer, a five-year veteran of Merkley, is discussing a new role at the New York shop, though he may leave, CEO Alex Gellert said.

Media Agency Vet Joins VNU As CEO of NielsenConnect

NEW YORK Jon Mandel, who has spent almost his entire career at media agencies, has joined Adweek parent VNU as chief executive of a newly formed business unit called NielsenConnect. He will be based in New York and report to David Calhoun, chairman and CEO of VNU. Most recently, Mandel was chief of strategic solutions at WPP’s Group M. Before that, he was instrumental in building Grey’s MediaCom in the U.S. After WPP acquired Grey in 2005, MediaCom was folded into Group M, which oversees all of the company’s media agencies, including Mediaedge:cia and MindShare. VNU described NielsenConnect as a unit that would draw information from the dozens of VNU companies that collect, analyze and report on consumer patterns and usage around the world and provide that information in new and unique ways to clients.

Wieden Hires Gleeson As Digital Strategies Director

LOS ANGELES Independent Wieden + Kennedy installed Renny Gleeson, 38, from Carat Fusion as its first global director of digital strategies last week. Gleeson reports to top management at the shop because “Wieden doesn’t want digital to be just another media function,” he said. Gleeson had worked on brands such as Alberto-Culver, Pfizer and Schick at Carat Fusion, and monetized digital assets for the National Basketball Association. He sees his role as “leveraging the seat at the table” Wieden has earned by virtue of its “game-changing creativity.”

Wal-Mart, Blockbuster Enter Video Download Market

NEW YORK Wal-Mart and Blockbuster said they would begin selling video downloads over the Internet, entering a potentially lucrative business that has thus far been dominated by exclusive online sellers such as Apple iTunes, CinemaNow and Movielink. Wal-Mart took the first step by giving consumers who buy a DVD of the newly released Superman Returns an optional video download for an additional fee: $1.97 for a download playable on portable devices, $2.97 for a download that plays on PCs or laptops and $3.97 for a download playable on both portable devices and computers. Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group president Kevin Tsujihara called the arrangement “an unprecedented offering that plays to the strengths of Wal-Mart’s successful DVD business while breaking new ground in the nascent digital video download market.” Blockbuster was quick to follow. CEO John Antioco, also speaking at the Reuters Media Summit, said the video rental chain might introduce a movie download service next year, possibly in partnership with a cable or satellite provider. Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have eyed the advance of video downloads with trepidation. In meetings with studios, Wal-Mart and Target Corp. have expressed fears that downloading could cut into their DVD businesses.

Carat to Lose Pfizer Business Following J&J Acquisition

NEW YORK Aegis’ Carat will lose a media planning and buying assignment for Pfizer Consumer Health Care once Johnson & Johnson closes on its acquisition of the Pfizer unit by year’s end, a J&J representative confirmed. Pfizer spends about $300 million in measured media, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. After the deal is completed, “Interpublic Group and OMD will handle planning and buying in North America for the J&J and Pfizer brands,” the rep said. IPG’s Universal McCann currently handles J&J’s North American media chores, while Omnicom’s OMD works for the company mainly in the rapidly expanding market of China. It is unclear how media duties will be divided or how long the new assignments will remain in effect. Sources have said the client would hold a $2.5 billion global media review next year. The rep said that immediately after completion of the Pfizer acquisition, buying for brands overseas will be handled by UM. At least for the short term, planning on the J&J and Pfizer brands remains at IPG’s Initiative and WPP’s MindShare, respectively, the rep said, except for China, where OMD already works for J&J and will add Pfizer media duties from Carat.