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Greener Pastures

Domestic advertising media accounts worth an estimated $9.4 billion shifted agencies in 2002, according to MediaAnalysisPlus. January 2002 was the most active month for account switches, with more than $2 billion moving to different shops. December was the least active month, with just $275 million in shifting business.

Remember the Internet? It Didn't Kill TV

Internet usage is up, but it doesn't appear to be coming out of time spent watching the tube, which is also up, according to the latest edition of the CTAM
(the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing) Pulse Tracking Study.

The study found viewers watching an average 17.1 hours of TV per week last year, up 8% from the average 15.8 hours that viewers reported watching in 2000. Internet surfers reported using the Web an average 8.2 hours a week last year, up 20% from the 6.8 hours they reported surfing per week in 2001.

The Big Game

Shania Twain, currently high on the country and pop charts with a new CD, has been signed for the Super Bowl halftime show. This year's game, Jan. 26 in San Diego, is being carried by ABC. The halftime show is sponsored by AT&T Wireless.

A study by Pennington, N.J.-based Gallup & Robinson
reports that 53% of viewers of last year's Super Bowl enjoyed watching the commercials in the game and also liked Super Bowl advertising more than regular advertising. The study also found that men and younger viewers tend to like the Super Bowl advertising more than other groups.

So, if you have a couple million bucks for a 30-second Super Bowl spot, talk to ABC. At last count, it still had about 10% of its ad time to sell, with the remaining units concentrated in the second half.

TV Ad Sales Strong in January

A report that Merrill Lynch
issued to clients last week says that TV advertising has remained "surprisingly strong in January." Network scatter pricing remains at 20%-plus higher than upfront pricing while first-quarter ad cancellations remain at historically low levels: 3% or less.

Merrill says that stations are reporting sales growth of 8%-11% in January vs. a year ago, with 75% of their inventory presold for the month as they entered the new year. The Wall Street firm reported continuing softness in ad demand for the general-entertainment cable networks, "including TNT
and TBS, which experienced CPM declines in the past upfront."

Swallowing a Piranha in Seattle

Stevenson Advertising
has sold its post-production company Piranha Productions
to a group of investors that includes broadcast veterans Chris Kelly, whose family owned KCPQ(TV) Seattle and KCRA-TV Sacramento, Calif., for many years; Wade Brewer, former general manager of KTWB(TV) Seattle; and Mark Allan, a former on-air radio personality. Ten-year-old Piranha has focused on commercial production and corporate/video work up to now. That work will continue, but the partners say they want to expand TV-program production as well.

You Know the Face

Nextel
has replaced Dennis Franz, the crusty NYPD Blue
star, with four fresher faces to plug its phones' Direct Connect walkie-talkie feature. The new pitchmeisters: Eric McCormack
(Will & Grace), Kristin Davis
(Sex and the City), George Lopez
(The George Lopez Show) and Rob Lowe
(The West Wing). Mullen, an Interpublic Group of Companies firm, handles Nextel.

Elsewhere in celebrityland: Jay Leno
is backing Tostitos Gold. ... Restaurateur and syndicated-show host B. Smith
is endorsing Equal, the sugar substitute. … The Osbourne
family has been signed by Pepsi Twist. ... Michael Jordan
is teaming up with Gatorade
in a spot that will be in the Super Bowl. … And H&R Block, the tax specialist, has booked Willie Nelson, whose tax woes are legendary.

Verizon in Love

Verizon Communications
has just broken a TV ad campaign that takes a more emotional tack than previous efforts. The initial spot features a twentysomething guy trying to make up with his girl friend by leaving numerous voice mails, including his singing "All I need Is a Miracle." McGarry Bowen
handles the Verizon account.

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