Hotlines: Late-Breaking Industry News

Activision Hands Creative Duties To DDB L.A. Following Review

LOS ANGELES Activision last week awarded creative duties to Omnicom’s DDB L.A. following a review, the client confirmed. The Venice, Calif.-based shop edged Publicis’ Team One, El Segundo, Calif., the other known finalist, per sources, in a review conducted by the search team of Russel Wohlwerth and Ann Billock. The Santa Monica, Calif.-based client spent $80 million in recent years, but dropped spending to $30 million in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus, as the relationship with independent Secret Weapon, Santa Monica, deteriorated.

4 Shops Chase J&J’s Splenda As Incumbent Preps for Move

NEW YORK Johnson & Johnson is reviewing creative chores on its Splenda sweetener brand, which last year spent nearly $35 million in major measured media, sources said. J&J has invited the New York offices of four roster shops to pitch the business: Omnicom agencies DDB and BBDO, WPP’s JWT and independent Mother, said sources. The contenders have been briefed and are preparing for final presentations, said sources. A decision is expected in June. The incumbent is Alchemy here, a subsidiary of IPG’s Lowe. Alchemy, meanwhile, is said to be getting closer both physically and strategically to Lowe amid the review and after losing traditional creative and media planning duties on J&J’s Imodium—which spent about $3 million in media last year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus—to sister shop Deutsch here in January. The losses reduce Alchemy’s share of J&J to brands such as Motrin, Mylanta, Pepcid, Balmex, Cortaid, Ortho, Ultracet and Lactaid. And the shop’s head count, once about 50, now hovers around 20, said sources. As a result, the unit is preparing to exit its Park Avenue space for Lowe’s midtown office here. Once the move is complete, sources expect Alchemy’s staffers to become part of Lowe Healthcare, which is based in Parsippany, N.J. Alchemy CEO Amy Sacks and Lowe worldwide CEO Stephen Gatfield could not be reached.

OMD Adds Planning Duties To Hershey Relationship

NEW YORK Hershey has awarded media planning duties for key brands such as its namesake Hershey Bar, Kisses and Take 5 to Omnicom’s OMD here without a review, according to sources. OMD already handled buying chores and continues to do so. The incumbent was Havas’ MPG here, which won the business a year and a half ago, at the same time the candy maker awarded creative duties to sibling shop Arnold, Boston, and independent North Castle Partners in Stamford, Conn. Hershey spent $95 million in domestic measured media in 2006, down nearly 30 percent from the previous year, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Sources said Arnold and NCP keep creative chores and that no review is presently planned for their portions of the business.

Nokia Briefings Are This Week; Review Split in Two Parts

NEW YORK Nokia execs are scheduled to brief contenders this week in the global review for its estimated $120 million-plus mobile phones account, sources said. The Espoo, Finland, client has split the review and the contender agencies into two parts: strategy/creative and geographic distribution and adaptation. Vying for strategy/creative are WPP’s JWT and independents Wieden + Kennedy and Mother, sources said. The networks contending for the distribution and adaptation piece are JWT, Omnicom’s DDB and the primary incumbent, WPP’s Grey, which is partnering with sister shop Bates, said sources. Sources said the estimated revenue on the business is $30 million.

$25 Mil. Porsche Issues RFPs With an Eye on Boutiques

NEW YORK Several small creative shops, balanced by a handful of larger traditional agencies, have received RFPs from Porsche North America as the automaker begins a review of creative and media duties on its $25 million account, sources said. Independents contacted include StrawberryFrog, SS+K, Anomaly, Naked and mcgarrybowen, all in New York, and Minneapolis-based Brew. Also on the list are IPG’s The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and WPP’s Berlin Cameron United in New York. Agencies did not return calls, and Porsche declined comment. It is unclear which agencies will return the RFPs, though Anomaly, SS+K, Naked and Martin are expected to do so. The Atlanta-based company’s account is currently handled by IPG’s Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis, while media buying is done by independent Kastner & Partners in Los Angeles. Carmichael Lynch will defend.

Bank of America Taps Starbucks Exec for New Brand, Ad Position

NEW YORK Anne Saunders, svp, global brand strategy at Starbucks, has left to join Bank of America as its brand and advertising executive, a new position, effective June 1, according to BofA. Saunders will be responsible for the Charlotte, N.C.-based bank’s overall brand management, including its advertising and sponsorships. The estimated $600 million advertising and marketing account for BofA is handled chiefly by Omnicom agencies, which won the business in August 2005 following a review in which it competed against agency teams from incumbent Interpublic and WPP.