Merkley Wins $100 Mil. Prevacid Account

NEW YORK—Merkley Newman Harty & Partners last week landed creative and media duties on Prevacid, a heartburn drug from TAP Pharmaceutical Products. The New York shop, a unit of Omnicom Group, bested the Interpublic Group team of McCann-Erickson in New York and the incumbent, Gillespie in Princeton, N.J., for the estimated $100 million account, said sources.

LaGreca to Step Down at McCann

NEW YORK—Sal LaGreca, vice chairman and chief financial officer for McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, is leaving, the company confirmed. WorldGroup CEO Jim Heekin said LaGreca had informed him one month ago of plans to retire during the first quarter of 2003. LaGreca, 49, joined the company in 1994 from parent IPG, where he was a controller. Heekin said a search was under way for LaGreca’s replacement both inside and outside IPG. In August, IPG took charges of $68.5 million relating to earnings at WorldGroup in Europe. Two weeks ago, the company cited underperformance in its Octagon Sports Marketing unit. IPG’s stock price fell about 30 percent after the announcement. Heekin would not comment on the restatement of earnings in Europe, nor would he comment on whether LaGreca’s retirement was related to it.

Mohamad Takes Over History Channel Review

NEW YORK—Mike Mohamad, the newly named svp of marketing for The History Channel, will now lead the network’s ad review after swapping jobs Monday with Arti Scheff, who has been appointed svp of marketing for A&E, the client confirmed. Scheff launched the History Channel’s estimated $15 million creative review in late September. Fifteen agencies have returned the RFP, Scheff said, adding that the field of contenders will be narrowed to three or four by Nov. 1. Media, handled by Horizon Media in New York, is unaffected.

$20 Mil. Lycos Decision Is Delayed

BOSTON—The shootout for the estimated $20 million account of Terra Lycos’ Lycos Web portal, between roster shops Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos and Ogilvy & Mather, has been delayed by internal machinations at the client that could result in high-level domestic management changes within the next few weeks, sources said. IPG’s Hill, Holliday in Boston handles the Lycos brand; WPP Group’s Ogilvy works on Terra. Agency executives either could not be reached or declined comment. A Terra Lycos representative said he would not “speculate on rumors.”

Sixth Exec Pleads Guilty in Printing-Industry Case

NEW YORK—James Rattoballi, a part-owner of an unnamed graphics-services company and a broker for other graphics-services companies, is the sixth person within the last two months to plead guilty to mail fraud, conspiracy and bid-rigging as part of the Department of Justice’s investigation into several printing and graphics-supply companies, including The Color Wheel.

WPP’s Third-Quarter Revenue Down 3 Percent

NEW YORK—WPP’s third-quarter revenue fell nearly 3 percent to about $1.4 billion, compared with the same period last year, the London-based holding company reported last week. For the first nine months of the year, revenue was down 2 percent to $4.5 billion, compared with the first nine months of 2001. In North America, third-quarter revenue dropped about 7 percent to approximately $629 million, compared with third-quarter 2001. North American revenue for the first nine months of the year was also down 7 percent, to about $2 billion, compared with the same period last year.

Digitas Revenue up 15 Percent in Third Quarter

BOSTON—Digitas reported a net loss of $44.5 million for the third quarter on revenue of approximately $86 million. That figure is a 19 percent improvement over the third quarter of 2001, when revenue was $72 million. The loss, which had been expected, was attributed by company officials mainly to a $47 million restructuring charge related to real estate holdings in Boston, New York and San Francisco. Though Digitas lost nearly $46 million in the third quarter a year ago, the company had of late posted modest gains, notching profits of $711,000 and $1.8 million in the first and second quarters of 2002, respectively.

Newswire Roundup

Frank151 in New York broke one spot for And1 last week with the new tagline, “Get Yours.” A second spot breaks in January. Publicis’ Fallon in New York, which had been And1’s lead agency, will now handle the $5-10 million account on a project basis. Creative directors on the campaign were Dan Cherry III, Stephen Malbon and Matthew Ammirati, the nephew of Ralph Ammirati, co-founder of the former Ammirati Puris Lintas. … Bates USA West has closed, sources said. The Irvine, Calif., office, which a year ago had $275 million in billings and roughly 150 employees, closed Oct. 18 with 20 staffers and no clients, sources said. … The Food Network began meeting with several unidentified agencies last week about handling its estimated $5-10 million creative account, sources said. It is unclear if the incumbent, GWhiz! Entertainment in New York, a division of Grey Global Group, will be participating. Sources said Linda Ong of Truth Consulting in New York is managing the review. … Helzberg Diamonds shifted its $10 million account to independent shop Doner, following a review that began due to the weakened financial state of the incumbent, Panoramic Communications’ Earle Palmer Brown, a client official said. IPG’s Carmichael Lynch in Minneapolis and independent agency The Richards Group in Dallas also contended. … Doe-Anderson has won the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco account. The Louisville, Ky., agency bested several undisclosed shops for the $20 million business. Jones Lundin Beals in New York managed the search.