Hotlines II: More Late-Breaking Industry News

Saatchi Withdraws From LG Global Image Race, Cites Conflict

NEW YORK Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi is no longer vying to handle global corporate image duties for LG Electronics, the agency confirmed. A Saatchi representative said the agency withdrew from the review because of a conflict. The rep declined to elaborate, but sources pointed to the agency’s global Sony Ericsson business. Sony Ericsson and LG compete in the mobile phones arena. A representative for LG declined to comment. Saatchi’s exit leaves two contenders for the estimated $100 million account: Publicis and Omnicom’s, said sources. Final presentations will take place this week at LG’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. At the same time, two other agencies are pursuing global creative duties on LG’s $100 million mobile communications business: Omnicom’s DDB and Publicis-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty, said sources. Those pitches also will take place next week in Seoul.

Toyota Yaris to Launch Spot Touting Microsoft Xbox 360

LOS ANGELES A Toyota Yaris spot will break online as early as this week to tout an upcoming Microsoft Xbox 360 game tie-in based on the “Spy vs. Spy”-inspired commercial campaign by Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, sources said. In the computer-generated 15-second commercial, an electric-blue Yaris rides up to an Xbox and deploys a cartoonish array of horns to blast open the box, sending dazed animated representations of various Xbox games exploding onto the floor. The box gets revenge by opening its disc drive and sucking the Yaris in with a smoky belch. An end card reads, “Get a Yaris into your Xbox 360.” Neither the agency nor client would comment on the gaming initiative promoted by the spot.

Social Nets Engage in Global Expansion, Struggle

PARIS News this week that social networking site Facebook is preparing to translate its service into non-English languages highlights what arguably is the key strategic challenge facing all Web 2.0 warriors: How to turn national success into global domination. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that expanding outside the English-language market is key to maintaining the company’s dizzying growth rate. At a conference last week in New York, he called “global expansion and being able to handle it” the company’s biggest challenge. Certainly, the next-generation Web giants already have worldwide reach. According to Internet ratings group comScore, of YouTube’s 76 million unique visitors in July, fewer than a quarter originated from the U.S. About one-third of MySpace and Facebook users are based outside North America. But break down the numbers territory by territory, and the U.S. hold looks less certain. In France, the Skyrock Network, an extension of a local youth-oriented radio station, is the country’s leading social networking site, with 9.4 million unique visits in August, four times more than MySpace in France. In the U.K., independently controlled Bebo leads the pack. In Japan, the site of choice is Mixi. In Germany, Facebook clone StudiVZ is the nation’s No. 2 social networking site, close behind MySpace. “A lot of times U.S. companies have struggled in not getting the cultural aspects right,” said Travis Katz, gm of international operations at MySpace. “Being culturally relevant matters a lot. We’re in 20 countries, and we hire people [abroad] who are cultural tastemakers who are very deep into music, film, fashion, video, comedy. We try to take their advice and feature content that is cutting-edge.”

Godiva Unwraps Passions In New Work From Sugartown

NEW YORK Godiva Chocolatier wants its customers to flaunt their passions. A print and outdoor campaign from independent Sugartown Creative breaking in mid-October positions the chocolate maker as a designer accessory meant to be flaunted. Sugartown’s campaign has three different executions, each focused on a separate aspect of the company: giving chocolate as a gift, using chocolate as an indulgence and the recently introduced Godiva Chocoiste, miniature chocolate balls meant to be eaten on the go. Fashion photographer Karel Keuhne shot each execution. The campaign will run until spring. The effort comes after Campbell Soup Co., which owns the confectioner, said in August that it was exploring selling the chocolate maker.

Saatchi Breaks New Tundra Demo Commercials

LOS ANGELES Saatchi & Saatchi’s latest demonstration spots for the Toyota Tundra attempt to “up the ante” on real spectacle, said Erich Funke, agency creative director. The nameplate’s demo ads have come under some fire of late, with skepticism from consumer bloggers and from other automakers who have challenged the authenticity of Tundra demonstrations in open forums. Even so, the agency has determined that “actual demonstration” spots are creating demonstrable results. During a challenging period when sales of all Toyota’s full-size truck competitors are down from 1 percent (Dodge Ram) to 12 percent (Ford F-series) through August, the Tundra is up 58 percent to 124,000 units, per Car Concepts, Thousand Oaks, Calif. A 30-second spot (“Wrecking Hammer”) breaking this week shows the Tundra menaced by a pair of huge I-beam hammers at a rock quarry. The truck accelerates fast enough from a full stop to escape harm, prompting the voiceover to enthuse, “Looks like man’s got a new best friend.” Another demo spot, breaking in coming weeks, will show the ability of the Tundra’s chassis and towing system to handle a heavy load as it drives through a gauntlet of fan machines simulating high wind conditions.

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