Newswires: Late-Breaking Industry News

McDonald’s Elementary School Report Card Ads Draw Fire

NEW YORK McDonald’s drew heavy criticism last week for a program that placed ads on kids’ report cards. As part of a joint business partnership with the School Board of Seminole County, Fla., McDonald’s offered students food prizes for A’s and B’s, citizenship and attendance. The offer was valid for kindergartners through fifth graders. District spokesperson Regina Klaers said such sponsorships had never been an issue before. It had a partnership with Pizza Hut for 10 years that the chain opted not to renew this year. “This is yet another example that self-regulation by food marketers has failed,” said Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “I’m not shocked that McDonald’s tried to do this; I’m shocked the school district went along with it.” Under the terms of the deal, McDonald’s fronted the $1,600 in printing costs associated with producing report cards for 27,000 students. “McDonald’s does not advertise in schools. However, we continue to support education initiatives in the communities we serve,” said a rep for McDonald’s USA, Oak Brook, Ill.

Dell Awards $4.5 Bil. Global Marketing Account to WPP

BOSTON WPP bested IPG last week to land global marketing services duties on Dell. Revenue on the account, which includes advertising, digital, direct marketing and media duties, is estimated at more than $100 million annually. The Round Rock, Texas-based client said the business is worth $4.5 billion in billings over three years. To service Dell, WPP will create a new 1,000-person agency that will handle every marketing discipline except for media buying, which will be handled by a unit of GroupM, WPP’s media division. In the U.S., Dell’s creative business had been split between independent shop Mother in New York, which has handled consumer-directed duties, and Omnicom’s DDB in Chicago, which had business-directed chores. Omnicom’s Prometheus in Chicago handled domestic media duties.

New Advertising School To Open Next Month in Boston

NEW YORK New York. Richmond. Miami. Boston? David Register, a former creative director at Havas’ Arnold, hopes to add Boston to the roster of cities known for their advertising schools. In January he will open his own, OptionR. Register will teach two eight-week programs that cost $950. The non-credit classes will have a maximum of 12 students and meet once a week. “I’m going to be the one teaching the classes, not like a guest teacher. This is my class and my school,” said Register, who worked as a copywriter on Fidelity Investments at Arnold in Boston and on Nextel at Wenham, Mass.-based Mullen.

Geffen’s Boy-Band Promo Embraces Video Games

NEW YORK If you haven’t heard of NLT, maybe you’re not playing the right video games. The boy band, whose name is an acronym for Not Like Them, is signed to Geffen Records and has an album slated to drop early next year. Seeking to promote the group, Geffen has turned to a medium its never used before: around-game advertising. Around game involves showing ads before, during or after video games. The games are generally free and found on sites such as and Geffen handled the creative in-house but teamed with San Francisco-based Mochi Media for placement.

Political Spending to Soar 43% to $4.5 Bil., per Survey

NEW YORK Political campaign spending on advertising media and marketing services is expected to soar 43 percent to an all-time high of $4.5 billion in the 2008 election cycle, according to a just-released analysis from ad and marketing research firm PQ Media. The Stamford, Conn.-based firm cited record fund-raising, the high number of presidential candidates and “an acrimonious political environment” as key drivers of the projected splurge. Political ad spending across all media is projected to reach $3.03 billion, and account for 67.2 percent of all political media spending in the 2008 election cycle, according to the PQ study. Additional spending on marketing services such as direct mail, public relations and promotions and event marketing will reach $1.48 billion and account for the remaining 32.8 percent. The firm predicted that marketing would continue to gain share from advertising due to more sophisticated databases that allow direct mail strategies to be targeted to the unusually large number of battleground states in the 2008 elections.

National Geographic Enters Advergaming Space

NEW YORK National Geographic Channel has entered the advergaming space, adding its latest interactive offering to a new microsite created to correspond to two new specials, Dino Death Trap and Dino Autopsy that will premiere on Dec. 9. The advergaming component on the video and interactive-heavy site is called “Fossil Hunt” and consists of three rounds that represent the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods with a dinosaur from each. The move is partly driven to increase time spent on its site, said Brad Dancer, vp, research and digital media.

Publicis Groupe Adds 2 Execs To Management Board

BOSTON Publicis Groupe last week named two new members to its five-person management board in order to replace a pair of executives who will soon retire. David Kenny, CEO of interactive shop Digitas, and Jean-Yves Naouri, evp , operations, at the holding company, were tapped to succeed Claudine Bienaime and Bertrand Siquier. The management board also renewed three other members: Maurice Lévy, the holding company’s CEO; Kevin Roberts, global chief executive at Saatchi & Saatchi; and Jack Klues, CEO of Starcom MediaVest. Each member serves a term of four years. Lévy was also reappointed CEO and chairman.

After Big Wins at WPP, Sorrell Downplays Talk of Recession

NEW YORK WPP Group CEO Martin Sorrell last week downplayed talk of a possible recession next year, indicating that he’s expecting the industry and his company to grow, due in part to ad spending around the Summer Olympics and U.S. presidential election. Sorrell also cited as positive signs recent WPP wins such as global marketing services duties on Dell [see story, this page] and AT&T’s consolidation of U.S. media duties at Mediaedge:cia. (AT&T, whose annual domestic spend is around $2.3 billion, previously split the business among five shops, including MEC.) What’s more, even if a recession does occur—which Sorrell stressed he’s not expecting—WPP appears more insulated than it was during the 2001-02 downturn because 54 percent of its revenue comes from marketing services like public relations, which are generally less prone to fluctuations during a recession. In 2000, marketing services generated about 45 percent of WPP’s revenue, Sorrell said. Also, burgeoning growth in markets such as China and India will likely cushion the blow from any downturn in the United States, according to Sorrell. “If America sneezes, we don’t catch influenza anymore. We catch a cold,” he said. Sorrell, speaking on the third day of UBS’ Global Media & Communications Conference in New York, said 2009 would be a more challenging year economically than 2008, particularly in the U.S. “The real issue is what happens in 2009,” said Sorrell. “Do I think there’s going to be a recession? No. [But] I do think things are going to get more difficult.”