Hotlines: Late-Breaking Industry News

Kirshenbaum, Margeotes to Merge; Powell Starts New Firm

NEW YORK MDC Partners is merging Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners with Margeotes Fertitta Powell, sources said. Margeotes Fertita + Partners sold a majority stake to MDC in 1998, becoming the company’s first U.S. acquisition. The agency’s clients include Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Christiania Vodka. KB+P, which works with Mohegan Sun and Wendy’s, among others, sold a majority stake to MDC in 2004. MFP CCO Neil Powell, who joined the agency in 2005 after it merged with his boutique shop, Powell, will be launching his own agency, backed by MDC. It is unclear what the name of Powell’s new shop will be. Neither the agencies nor MDC could be reached.

J&J Places $3 Bil. Global Media Business Up for Review

NEW YORK Johnson & Johnson said it has put its estimated $3 billion global media buying and planning account into review and that all its agencies—IPG’s Universal McCann and Initiative, Omnicom’s OMD and WPP’s MindShare—will be participating. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based client spends an estimated $1.4 billion in U.S. media alone, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Last year, J&J acquired Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, which has 40 brands, media duties for which are part of this review. Creative duties are not affected, the client said. Pfizer spent about $600 million-plus in U.S. Media on its consumer brands last year. Its global media spend is at least twice that. The client said in a statement, “The recent acquisition of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare created an opportunity to reevaluate our media agency relationships and enhance the ability of our brands to effectively communicate and leverage investment across the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse media landscape.”

R/GA’s Zucker Takes New York ECD Position With

NEW YORK R/GA ecd Mat Zucker is moving to in the same position. Zucker, 37, takes the place of Tom Ajello, who is departing the Omnicom agency after more than two-and-a-half years there. Prior to joining R/GA in June 2005, he worked for five years as a creative director at OgilvyOne, where he was creative director on Ameritrade, American Express, Cisco and other accounts. He started his career as a copywriter at Foote Cone & Belding. Zucker will lead a creative department of about 30. He starts work at the agency April 16.

Macy’s Hands Fall Campaign To JWT Following Review

NEW YORK Macy’s has awarded creative duties on its fall campaign to roster shop JWT after a review, the client confirmed. A handful of smaller, creatively driven shops also pitched for the business, said sources. Those agencies could not be determined. WPP’s JWT referred calls to the client, which said, in a statement: “We have spent the past month speaking with agencies about our fall 2007 creative. While we have seen some extremely good work from the agencies in the review, at this time we will continue to work with JWT in New York.” Past billings on the business, estimated at $20 million, are expected to grow with the new assignment. Macy’s launched the review with an eye toward adding another agency to the roster. The fall effort is expected to break in September.

One Sorrell Suit Is Settled, Another Will Proceed in England

LONDON Last week, a U.K. court of appeals ruled that WPP’s claim against former Italy country manager Marco Benatti, for breach of contract, could be heard in English courts. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell contends Benatti violated his contract by disguising a financial interest in a company he recommended the English holding company acquire. Benatti, who is countersuing WPP in Italian courts for wrongful dismissal, had appealed against an earlier jurisdiction ruling. Separately, Sorrell accepted a $236,000 settlement in his libel action against Benatti, who is also founder of Italian media company FullSix, and Marco Tinelli, FullSix’s CEO. WPP Italy COO Daniela Weber, who had a prior relationship with Sorrell and was party to Sorrell’s related invasion of privacy complaint, received $59,000. As part of the settlement, neither Benatti nor Tinelli accepted liability.

Fallon, Arnold to Present Again In $150 Mil. Volvo Review

NEW YORK The remaining finalists in Volvo’s $150 million global creative review—Publicis’ Fallon and the team of Havas’ Arnold and independent Nitro—will return to the carmaker’s headquarters in Sweden in two weeks for another round of presentations. A decision is expected the same week. Those shops emerged Thursday after the client eliminated the primary incumbent, Havas’ Euro RSCG, and Omnicom’s 180. New York-based Roth Associates is managing the search.

Roehm Accuses Wal-Mart Of Waging ‘Smear Campaign’

NEW YORK Fired marketing executive Julie Roehm released a statement to the media last week claiming she is a victim of a “smear campaign” by her former employer Wal-Mart. The statement, released by her attorney John F. Schaefer, challenged Wal-Mart’s allegations of certain improprieties, such as having an affair with a subordinate, and said there was no valid reason for her dismissal. “Wal-Mart is insinuating things about my personal life and pretending I violated some code of ethics with advertisers, all to distract from the reality that it didn’t want my form of progressive marketing,” it read. John Simley, a Wal-Mart rep, said, “The facts in our counterclaim speak for themselves.”