Hotlines: Late-Breaking Industry News

MDC Takes 77% Stake in Crispin, Full Ownership of Kirshenbaum

NEW YORK MDC Partners’ announcement last week that it was taking a majority stake in Crispin Porter + Bogusky follows by two weeks the holding company’s quieter increase to full ownership of Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners. Crispin is now 77 percent owned by the Toronto-based MDC, which bought a 49 percent stake in the shop in 2004. Crispin has offices in Miami and Boulder, Colo. MDC paid a total of $48 million for the equity increases in Crispin and Kirshenbaum. The agencies said they would use the money to expand operations. Crispin said it was considering opening a London office. “We have recently discovered that there are countries other than the U.S.,” joked Chuck Porter, chairman of Crispin and chief strategist for MDC (shown below). “[Expanding overseas is] something we’ve had conversations about. Among the countries we’ve looked at, England happened to be one of them.” As for Kirshenbaum, the New York agency is looking to fund new acquisitions, said Richard Kirshenbaum, co-chair. “We could spend it on new technologies or a new Hispanic unit. We see a lot of new startups and ways to communicate with the consumer base,” he said. Both agencies denied the additional investment would negatively impact their respective creative cultures. “We consider ourselves to be partners with MDC,” said Kirshenbaum. “We think Miles [Nadal] trusts us to run the business, and our names are on the door.”

Euro RSCG and 4D Combine N.Y. Operations Under Co-Chiefs

NEW YORK Havas’ Euro RSCG and Euro RSCG 4D on Friday moved to integrate their respective New York operations under a single leadership team. As a result, the departments and 250 staffers of 4D, a digital and direct marketing shop, will be blended into those of the ad agency. The combined 500-person agency will operate under a single profit and loss center as Euro RSCG. Named to run the office were Andrew Bennett, global chief strategy officer for the network, and 4D CEO Jeff Brooks. Each takes the title of co-president and will report to Esther Lee, North American CEO of Euro RSCG. Previously, Brooks, 37, ran the digital and direct shop’s New York location and oversaw offices in Boston and Wilton, Conn. The ad agency here had a management team but no president or CEO. New York’s last CEO was David Jones, who rose to worldwide CEO in 2005. Brooks’ 4D post will be dissolved but Bennett, 36, will retain his duties as chief strategist, a role he assumed in 2004.

Hyundai/Kia to Pick Finalists In $800 Mil. Media Review

NEW YORK Hyundai/Kia this week is expected to select a handful of shops to pitch its estimated $800 million media account, sources said. The finalists will be culled from a list of five agencies: Publicis’ Optimedia, IPG’s Initiative, Havas Media, independent Horizon Media and the incumbent, Aegis’ Carat, said sources. Last week, the contenders met with client executives at their office in Irvine, Calif. Agency and client execs either could not be reached or declined comment. Roth Associates, the New York consultancy managing the search, did not return calls. Creative is not in play. Hyundai’s lead creative shop is Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, and Kia’s creative agency is independent davidandgoliath in El Segundo, Calif.

Toyota Breaks North American Image Campaign, Goes Green

NEW YORK Toyota Motors North America today launched an image campaign from Dentsu, New York, that emphasizes the carmaker’s environmental record. This is the company’s first image campaign in two years. The previous one, also from Dentsu, New York, highlighted the economic benefits of Toyota factories in the U.S. The effort comes as the automaker has been in the news lately, but not always for positive stories. Earlier this year environmentalists slammed the company for joining with big automakers such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler to support H.R. 2927, which would set fuel economy standards at 32 to 35 mpg by 2022. Groups such as the National Resources Defense Council want that number increased to 35 mpg by 2020. Toyota bristles at the criticism. “No company has done more than us to advance alternative fuel technology,” said Steve Sturm, group vice president, Toyota. “We firmly support the bill that will raise fuel economy standards.” The new campaign consists of a 60-second TV spot, which will debut as the sole advertiser on NBC’s The Nightly News With Brian Williams today, four print ads and the micro site.

Partnership With YouTube Creates Oprah Video Channel

NEW YORK Oprah Winfrey has gone viral. The media mogul’s Harpo Productions has announced a partnership with YouTube to launch an Oprah channel on the video site. The new channel, which went live Friday, features a collection of supplemental video from The Oprah Winfrey Show, including backstage footage, highlights from guest appearances, and videos that Winfrey shot herself. To kick off interest in the new partnership, Winfrey has booked YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen to appear on her show Tuesday. She will also feature several YouTube stars on the program, including Tyson the skateboarding dog and Judson Laipply, creator of the much-streamed Evolution of Dance clip. Also, Winfrey will guest edit YouTube on Monday and Tuesday, when she will present some of her favorite videos.