Hotlines: Late-Breaking Industry News

Pasta Maker Barilla Awards $275 Mil.-Plus in Media to OMD

NEW YORK Omnicom’s OMD has won global media planning and buying chores for Parma, Italy-based Barilla, the pasta and sauce maker, the client has confirmed. Estimated annual global ad spend on the account is $275-300 million, sources said, although the client indicated that buying for Italy—where spending is about $80 million a year—would be handled in-house effective with the switch to OMD in 2008. WPP’s Mediaedge:cia was the incumbent and defended. The other contenders were Aegis’ Carat and Publicis’ Spark, a unit of Starcom MediaVest Group, said sources. The U.S. account makes up a small portion of the overall ad spend. According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, domestic media spending by Barilla totaled $18 million in 2006. In the U.S., the account will be handled out of OMD’s Chicago office.

Mike’s Hard Lemonade To Pick Finalists This Week

NEW YORK Mike’s Hard Lemonade is expected to select three or four finalists this week in its review of creative and media duties on its estimated $20 million account, sources said last week. The finalists will be culled from a field of seven shops that Mike’s executives visited last week. Sources identified those contenders as independents Droga5 and Amalgamated, both in New York, Modernista! in Boston and 72 and Sunny in El Segundo, Calif.; WPP’s Cole & Weber United in Seattle; and IPG units Deutsch in New York and Mullen in Wenham, Mass. The agencies either declined comment or could not be reached. Ark Advisors, the consultancy managing the search, did not return calls. The account is currently split between independent We Are Gigantic (creative) and MDC’s The Media Kitchen (media).

Decision Looms in’s $60 Mil. Media Review

NEW YORK this week will likely select a shop to handle media duties on its estimated $60 million account, following final presentations two weeks ago, said sources. The finalists are independents TargetCast and Horizon Media, both in New York, and Publicis’ Optimedia in Seattle. The contenders in a parallel creative review, meanwhile, are slated to pitch next week, at the client’s headquarters in Dallas. Vying for the creative piece are Publicis’ Saatchi & Saatchi and Omnicom’s TBWA\Chiat\Day, both here, and WPP’s Young & Rubicam in Chicago said sources. The incumbent, independent Doner in Southfield, Mich., is not participating in the review, which is being managed by Ark Advisors in New York.

Copps to FCC Chairman: Get More Reads on ‘WSJ’ Deal

WASHINGTON The FCC’s senior Democrat is pushing the agency’s Republican chairman to open a special proceeding to investigate issues surrounding News Corp.’s $5.6 billion purchase of The Wall Street Journal. Citing the deal’s impact on the New York market, commissioner Michael Copps told chairman Kevin Martin that the deal deserved special attention. “I believe that the FCC’s obligation to consider the public interest—which the agency has traditionally defined as localism, diversity and competition—requires us to consider the implications of a merger between these two media giants,” Copps wrote in a letter Thursday.

Gametap Taps Ignited as Agency on $25 Mil. Account

LOS ANGELES Turner Broadcasting division has hired El Segundo, Calif.-based independent Ignited (formerly Ignited Minds), as the agency to handle creative, media and strategy on its $25 million account, Ignited confirmed. The Atlanta-based online gaming site had been handling its marketing internally and initially came to the agency for a Web project. The broadcast portion of what is expected to be an integrated campaign launches during the second quarter of 2008. GameTap spent $25 million advertising in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

Magna Global Exec Slams Press, Nielsen, Networks Over Ratings

NEW YORK Steve Sternberg, executive vp of audience analysis at media agency Magna Global USA, said in a missive released early Friday as part of his commercial audience retention report, that the confusion and misinformation about viewing levels for the current television season are the fault of the TV networks, the press and Nielsen Media Research. Sparing no one but the media agencies, Sternberg wrote, “This confusion is not helped by various networks releasing limited and incomplete data that puts them in the best possible light. Nor is it helped by a press that, by and large, doesn’t understand the significance, or lack thereof, of various pieces of data.” But Sternberg saved his most cutting remarks for Nielsen Media Research. “Nielsen,” he said, “is happy to sit back, seemingly oblivious to the chaos their scattershot approach to releasing audience data has caused. We sincerely hope that they are expending the considerable resources they seem to be applying to numerous other areas, to streamline their processes, and figure out a way to get average commercial minute audience data to the industry faster than the current three to four week lag time.” Nielsen Media Research and Adweek are both units of The Nielsen Co. “We are providing clients with a large amount of data because they have told us that they need more information to address the changing way in which television is being delivered,” said Nielsen representative Gary Holmes. “We believe our clients are sophisticated enough to understand, analyze and use this information for their commercial purposes. We see no reason to criticize how the media has covered this issue.”

LG Launches New Campaign Urging Consumers to ‘Upgrade’

NEW YORK LG Electronics will ask consumers to dump their old appliances, not because they don’t work but because they’re not as stylish as LG’s wares. The $20 million campaign, breaking this week, will use “upgrade” as its theme. “We’re engaging consumers by focusing on a new-found desire to upgrade or ‘trade up’ appliances, rather than waiting until they stop working to replace them,” said John Weinstock, vp, appliance marketing at LG Electronics. DTV spots, via BrandBuzz in New York, portray old, vanilla-styled appliances as objects to be destroyed. Creative shows women stopping to admire a window display of LG appliances. They then enter a dream state, fantasizing about smashing their current appliances using items such as a jackhammer or steamroller.