news wire

– Grant Hill Plays Doctor, Pilot in New Sprite Spot
NEW YORK–Basketball star Grant Hill plays the unlikely roles of pilot and surgeon in Lowe Lintas & Partners’ latest TV commercial for Sprite. A 30-second spot, breaking this week, also shows Hill attempting to disarm a bomb and remove a tube of green fluid from a nuclear reactor. A voiceover asks rhetorically if you would want an NBA player performing these duties. In the end, Hill retorts, “Then why do you want someone telling you what to drink?” The spot retains the 6-year-old tag, “Image is nothing. Thirst is everything. Obey your thirst.” Hill has appeared in nine spots for Sprite since 1995. The latest breaks a week after Michael Jordan expressed a desire to do fewer endorsements.

– Metamor Needs Shop for Branding Effort
DALLAS–Metamor Worldwide is searching for a shop to handle its $10-15 million initial corporate branding campaign. The Houston company, with sales of more than $500 million, handles e-business support, computer systems integration and training. The review is being handled by Boston-based consultant Pile and Co.

– Ogilvy Launches $100 Mil. SAP Effort
LOS ANGELES–Ogilvy & Mather rolls out a $100 million global campaign for software giant SAP AG this week. Two TV commercials introduce the company’s new Internet business solution portal MySAP.com. One spot features pro golfer Gary Player. A caddy makes use of MySAP.com to immediately replace Player’s missing wedge during a tournament. The tagline: “You can. It does.” The campaign was created by Ogilvy’s Los Angeles office, which picked up the consolidated global account last fall [Adweek, Oct. 4].

– FCB Wins Oinke.com’s Estimated $25 Mil. Account
LOS ANGELES–FCB Worldwide has picked up the estimated $25 million account of Oinke.com, an auction Web site that specializes in procuring financing for midsized businesses. The FCB, Costa Mesa, Calif., office was selected following a review that included finalists Nine Dots Corp., Irvine, Calif., and USWeb/CKS, San Francisco.

– McCann Grabs Microsoft X-Box Account
NEW YORK–McCann-Erickson Worldwide has been awarded additional ad duties from Microsoft Corp. The New York office will handle the estimated $100 million account for X-Box, a video game scheduled to debut in 2001. Last summer, the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant moved its estimated $450 million account for corporate branding, the MSN Network and Microsoft 2000 software program to McCann.

– Grey Wins Creative Duties on Robitussin
NEW YORK–Grey Advertising has been awarded creative duties on the $35 million account for Robitussin cough medicines from Whitehall Robins Healthcare, a division of American Home Products. Media duties are handled in-house. The assignment followed a review that included FCB, New York. Lowe Lintas & Partners, the incumbent, had resigned the business.

– Publicis Group Acquires Peruvian Agency
NEW YORK–Publicis Group has acquired Publicistas Asociados, Peru’s leading advertising agency, based in Lima, which will take the name Publicis Asociados. Terms were not disclosed. With 150 employees, Publicistas Asociados claims $36 million in billings

– B COM3 Merges Media Operations in Mexico
CHICAGO–B COM3 has merged its Starcom and MediaVest operations in Mexico. The new entity will take the Starcom name and be led by MediaVest’s Latin America president Nancy Mullahy. She replaces Miguel Angel Ruiz, who left the company. Mullahy will also serve as deputy Latin American regional managing director as B COM3 searches to fill the post permanantly. The new Starcom Mexico will be the market’s second-largest media company with $350 million in annual billings. Roster clients include Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Philip Morris.

– Newswire Roundup
The Publicis Group is stepping up its Internet initiatives with the creation of three interactive units to be initially based in Paris but then rolled out across the network. Publicis.Net will provide interactive marketing and create Web sites for e-commerce clients. Interactive@Optimedia will plan and buy online media. Publicis e-Transformation is an internal program to train employees in all aspects of Internet design and marketing. Meanwhile, Grey Ventures, the independent venture-capital arm of Grey Advertising, has made an investment in Elemental Interactive, an Atlanta Internet firm specializing in online investor communications. Terms were undisclosed. Elemental has done work for IBM, AT&T, Compaq and Schering-Plough, among others. J. Walter Thompson, Detroit and Atlanta, topped three Florida contenders for the South Florida Ford Dealers Association’s $15-20 million account. … DraftWorldwide has acquired Trampolin Advertising in Stockholm, the Chicago-based marketing shop’s first foray into Scandinavia. The shop, which handles direct marketing, sales promotion and production in addition to having an interactive division, will change its name to DraftWorldwide Sweden. Citron Haligman Bedecarrƒ has won two new accounts, including the $10-15 million VideoYellowPages.com biz and a branding campaign for Business 2.0 magazine. Billings for that account are undisclosed. Kiddo.com has narrowed its search to three shops: Amazon, San Francisco, WongDoody and McCann-Erickson, both Los Angeles. SRI is the consultancy. Billings are undisclosed.