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Hot Spots

New Campaigns

Big Lots, a closeout retail chain with 1,300-plus outlets, last week broke its first national TV campaign, starring sitcom actor Jerry Van Dyke. Besides its four general-market TV spots, Big Lots will run one in Spanish via Univision, Telemundo and Telefutura, according to Big Lots EVP of Marketing Kent Larsson. SBC Advertising, Columbus, Ohio, is the agency on the campaign, which has a budget of $50 million. ...

American Express
last week broke its first broadcast/cable campaign featuring NBA
and WNBA
players and coaches and touting its "official card" status with the hoop leagues. The light-hearted campaign, to run through the NBA Playoffs, NBA Finals and the WNBA season, follows on last summer's similar campaign, tied to the U.S. Open tennis tourney. WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York, is the agency. ...

Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan
will be featured in TV and other advertising for Nestle's
Baby Ruth candy bar this spring. The campaign will emphasize ESPN's SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and ESPN The Magazine—given Baby Ruth's alliance with ESPN—plus some other outlets. Nolan will plug the Baby Ruth "Real Deal Fan Search," in which baseball fans will be urged to submit a one-minute video on their passion for sports. The top 10 entries will be posted online at Baby Ruth's Web site, where consumer votes will narrow that to the top five. The winner will face the all-time strikeout king in August.

Nielsen, Scarborough Debut Ad-Research Tool

Nielsen Media Research
and Scarborough Research
will jointly market a new ad-sales software tool called Nielsen Profiler. The software links the databases of Scarborough's qualitative research program with local TV ratings from the Nielsen Station Index service.

So, if you're trying to find out if Cadillac buyers who eat at McDonald's and go to the movies once a week watch your newscast, the Profiler software could tell you. The joint effort stemmed from an on-going collaboration by the two companies under which NMR serves as a rep of sorts for Scarborough products to its station clients.

Account Review

The DuPont
account review has narrowed to seven agencies. Billings are estimated at $60 million-plus. Twenty-two agencies got the marketer's initial request for information in February.

Product-Placement Deals

and McDonald's
have signed brand-integration, or product-placement, deals for USA Network's new talent series Nashville Star. Series producer Reveille
and Universal Television Group, partnered in that production firm with Ben Silverman, said that Chevy's Silverado is being used as the "official transportation vehicle" on the time series and that McDonald's integration will entail contestants' seeking out dining opportunities.

Magna's Mid-Season Review

Looking over 26 weeks of Nielsen ratings through March 23, Magna Global USA
cautioned that "an extended [Iraq] conflict could have negative effects on prime time averages but it is still too early to be felt."

remains the frontrunner in household ratings thus far, 4% ahead of its year-ago performance, but Magna's latest ratings analysis pointed out that NBC is just a point behind. Similarly, in the 18-49 demo numbers, NBC
leads with a 12 share—just one share point ahead of the runners-up—with ABC, CBS and Fox
in a three-way tie.

Among persons 12-34, Fox's first-place rank also is a mere two share points ahead of NBC and ABC, Magna added.

New Hire

Buoyed by its healthy sales so far this year, spot cable rep National Cable Communications
is continuing its aggressive staffing and restructuring efforts, including luring Rainbow Advertising Sales Co.'s Deborah Cuffaro
as director of news sales. She had been senior vice president at RASCO's Cable News Inc.
since 1996. NCC said it's adding 78 new positions, which will expand its staff by 18%.


General Motors
and Mutual of Omaha
have extended their sponsorship deals at Discovery Communications. GM's sponsorship of Discovery Channel's Quest series of quarterly prime time specials continues into the new season. The three new specials due in the coming year will focus on human evolution, sacred mummies and rare baby elephants.