Hotlines II: Late-Breaking News

AT&T Consolidates $2.3 Bil. In U.S. Media Duties at MEC

NEW YORK AT&T last week consolidated media chores on its estimated $2.3 billion U.S. account at WPP shop Mediaedge:cia here following a review. Previously, the business had been split among Mediaedge, which handled planning and buying on AT&T Wireless (except for newspapers); Omnicom’s GSD&M Idea City, which had planning and buying on AT&T’s landline business; Omnicom’s OMD, newspaper buying for AT&T Wireless; IPG’s Initiative, planning and buying in the Southern region formerly known as BellSouth, which AT&T acquired last year; and Publicis’ Digitas, interactive. All the incumbents participated in the review, but Initiative exited in September because of a conflict between AT&T and Verizon, according to sources. Digitas, which pitched the consolidated account in partnership with sister shop Starcom MediaVest Group, remains on the client’s creative roster. AT&T kept event marketing company The Marketing Arm for non-media sponsorship opportunities and Omnicom’s Davie Brown for product integration tasks. Select Resources International, Santa Monica, Calif., managed the review.

Microsoft Makes $240 Mil. Investment in Facebook

NEW YORK Microsoft has invested $240 million in Facebook in a deal that values the social network at $15 billion, according to the companies. Microsoft will now own 1.6 percent of Facebook, which was founded three-and-a-half years ago. Under terms of the deal, Microsoft will expand its agreement to sell banner ads on Facebook to international markets. Last August, Microsoft inked a deal to be the exclusive seller of Facebook display advertising in the U.S. That deal runs through 2011. Facebook had been negotiating with both Google and Microsoft for a package that would give it a lofty valuation. Although Microsoft would be the exclusive reseller of Facebook display ad space, Facebook is building its own sales organization that works with advertisers on forming their own groups on the site and running ads in the News Feed compilation of a user’s network activity. Facebook early next month plans to unveil additional ad products at a meeting in New York.

Google-Nielsen Deal Will Give Ad Platform More Viewer Data

NEW YORK Google and The Nielsen Co. (parent of Adweek) said last week that they had established a multiyear partnership that initially will focus on collaborating on the search giant’s TV Ads platform. Google TV Ads launched in May in collaboration with EchoStar’s Dish service and provides a Web-based platform for companies to buy, sell, measure and deliver TV spots. Google uses the set-top-box data secured from Dish to tell clients how many people are watching their ads and for how long. Under the new partnership, Nielsen will supplement the data aggregated from Dish with demographics. Google TV Ads director Mike Steib called this the “next major step” in the platform and added that it would make the marketing information more relevant to clients. “There are a lot of areas where there’s overlap in what we do and provide and what Nielsen does and provides,” Steib said. Dave Thomas, president of media client services at Nielsen, said that discussions also have been initiated about partnerships beyond the TV Ads platform.

JWT N.Y. Promotes Grossman To New Client Services Role

NEW YORK JWT global account handler Peter Grossman has taken on the added responsibility of leading client services at the WPP shop’s headquarters here. Grossman, a global business director on JWT’s Cadbury Adams and Schick Wilkinson accounts, last week was named to the new post of director of client services. In this role, Grossman, 40, will manage about a dozen domestic business directors, oversee client service and help to grow existing business. Domestic clients in New York include Macy’s, JetBlue and Sunglass Hut. Grossman’s promotion comes amid a restructuring after the exit of New York chief operating officer John Garland. Garland left the agency this month after eight years to form his own company.

WPP Group Adds Blast Radius To Interactive Portfolio

NEW YORK WPP Group continued its addition of interactive assets, completing the acquisition of Canadian digital shop Blast Radius. The holding company is aligning Blast Radius with marketing services network Wunderman. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Launched 10 years ago in Vancouver, Blast Radius had an estimated $43 million in revenue in 2006 and employs about 350 people in offices in Vancouver, Toronto, New York, San Francisco and London. Blast Radius specializes in building Web sites and interactive experiences for clients like Nike, Whirlpool and Electronic Arts.

Pinnacle Foods Shifts Media Planning Chores to Merkley

NEW YORK Omnicom’s Merkley + Partners, a Pinnacle Foods roster shop that handles creative duties on three brands, has added media planning tasks for all Pinnacle labels, the agency said last week. The brands include Aunt Jemima, Hungry Man, Mrs. Butterworth’s and Mrs. Paul’s. Billings were not disclosed. Pinnacle has spent about $27 million in the first eight months of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Previously, the business was handled by sister media shop PHD, which retains media buying duties across the portfolio. Merkley joined Pinnacle’s roster in early 2008, when the New York shop landed creative duties on Aunt Jemima, Duncan Hines and Mrs. Butterworth’s.

Omnicom Posts 14 Percent Net Income Growth in Q3

BOSTON Omnicom’s global net income rose 14 percent in the third quarter to $202 million, the holding company said last week, as it reported generally better-than-expected results. The growth was fueled by a 12 percent increase in revenue, to $3.1 million for the quarter. Domestically, revenue climbed 7.5 percent in the U.S., to $1.6 billion, while internationally it jumped more than 17 percent, to $1.5 billion, the company said. For the first nine months of 2007, Omnicom’s net income rose almost 13 percent to $587 million on an 11 percent rise in revenue, to almost $9.1 billion. Publicis will report its Q3 results today and IPG on Thursday.

Independent Wieden Wins And Loses Some P&G Work

CHICAGO Procter & Gamble last week shifted its relationship with independent agency Wieden + Kennedy, handing the shop global creative duties on Escada fragrances and Graham Webb hair-care products and interactive duties on Old Spice, the client said. At the same time, Wieden lost creative duties on P&G’s Eukanuba to Omnicom’s Integer Group, which is primarily focused on promotions and retail marketing. The Portland, Ore.-based agency already handled lead creative duties on Old Spice, which shifted from Publicis shop Saatchi & Saatchi last year. Escada will be handled out of the shop’s London office, and Graham Webb will be handled out of New York. Last year, in the U.S alone, P&G spent $60 million in major measured media on Old Spice, $8 million on Eukanuba, $4 million on Escada and roughly $3 million on Graham Webb, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.