Hot Spots

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Sales

ABC's Super Bowl coverage on Jan. 26 is nearly sold out at prices in the $2 million to $2.2 million range, industry sources say. That's up from $1.9 million per 30-second spot last January. Anheuser-Busch, which has had the beer exclusive on the event for about 15 years, has alone bought about five minutes' worth of airtime for Budweiser and other brands, sources say. Other major clients include General Motors' Cadillac (which also will sponsor ABC's post-game show); PepsiCo Inc., for its lemon-lime soft drink Sierra Mist; Levi Strauss & Co.; H&R Block; and Charles Schwab. Monster.com is one of the few Internet companies still buying into the Super Bowl.

Accounts

Coca-Cola Co.'s review for the Diet Coke account is down to two Interpublic Group of Cos. agencies: incumbent Lowe, New York, and Foote, Cone & Belding, New York and Chicago. Two other agencies were cut from the review for the estimated $10 million-plus account. Meanwhile, broadcast and cable networks, among others, are licking their lips in anticipation of another round in the Coke-Pepsi "cola wars." Television-heavy ad spending for their flagship cola brands as well as their various lesser brands could surge well into nine figures.

Cable Interconnects

National Cable Communications
will become the national spot-sales rep firm for Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp.'s New York Interconnect, News 12 Networks
and MetroChannels, effective in January. NCC also represents Time Warner CityCable
in New York, which means that the rep firm will effectively bring one stop shopping for national ad buyers to New York cable market. Separately, NCC announced that its CableLink Interconnects
division is joining forces with Visible World
and SeaChange International
to test addressable advertising at its interconnected markets. That test started last week in Albany, N.Y., and will expand to the six other CableLink markets. By the week of Jan. 27, clients will be able to target 4 million cable homes, the companies said.

Adlink
and nCube Corp.
have signed a multimillion-dollar deal that will enable Adlink, the Los Angeles interconnect, to become the first fully digital program-insertion-capable operation in the country. Adlink, which currently inserts on 44 analog cable networks via 75 headends, has been in the forefront of bringing ad insertion to digital streams as well.

Research

TV viewers surveyed by Intermedia Advertising Group
cited the Windex
spot featuring two birds talking about a woman cleaning a window as the most memorable commercial in mid November (Nov. 11-24). IAG, which does ongoing commercial-recall testing, found that the latest Toys 'R' Us
commercial, in which Geoffrey the giraffe touts a two-day toy sale was the second-most-recalled ad during the survey period. Rounding out the top three spots: Old Navy's "Family Fleece" ad with actress Morgan Fairchild in a Family Feud-like game show.

Executives

Ad-agency veteran Jean Pool, who has been president of operations at WPP Group's MindShare, is jumping to another major media-buying firm: Universal McCann
(under Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide umbrella), as EVP/director of operations. She will report to Universal McCann CEO Robin Kent. Pool was on the original management team in spring 2000, when WPP combined the media operations of J. Walter Thompson Co. (where she was EVP/director of North American media services) and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide into MindShare.

Campaigns

Broadcast and cable network execs are banking on some new snack ad budgets early next year, when PepsiCo Inc.'s Frito-Lay is expected to go national with Lay's Stax. The new potato-chip product, packed in a canister à la Pringles, should go national in March, and its arrival undoubtedly will be met with a counter-offensive from archrival Procter & Gamble Co.'s Pringles. Frito-Lay also is preparing to introduce Go Snacks, various salty snacks in canisters. Meanwhile, Quaker Oats Co.
will go against Frito-Lay's Grandma's cookie brand and Kraft Foods' recently unveiled Go-Paks with Quaker Quick Bites, a line of small oatmeal raisin and chocolate-chip cookies.

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