Hot Spots


The Chicago-based Options Industry Council
has started a new TV campaign to educate investors on "the use of equity options to enhance stock portfolios." Two spots produced by Creative Alliance, also Chicago, will be run.

The first, airing on CNBC, focuses on "What is an option?" and depicts an investor riding solo up an escalator while nearby down escalators are crowded, to illustrate that options can enhance an investment portfolio even when stock prices are falling. The second commercial, breaking in February, will explain "what is not an option."


Capital One, whose estimated $140 million-plus account went into review after Publicis Groupe
decided to close incumbent D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, has narrowed its list of contenders from 10 to five. Besides Publicis's Kaplan Thaler Group, New York, which is currently handling the account, the semifinalists are Grey Global Group's Grey Worldwide, New York; Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, and Martin Agency, Richmond, Va.; and Omnicom Group's Element 79 Partners, Chicago. DMB&B created Capital One's ongoing "What's in your wallet?" campaign in 1999.

Rainbow Media Holdings' AMC
network (formerly American Movie Classics) is conducting an agency search. There is no incumbent. AMC spokespersons declined comment.

Champion Mortgage Co., whose longtime ad theme is "Champion says yes," is expected to start looking soon for a new ad agency, Martin Agency
having resigned the account. The Interpublic Group of Cos. agency, Champion's first agency of record, had handled the client since January 2001. The account is estimated at $20 million.

Toyota Motor Sales USA
has named Publicis Groupe's Zenith Media, New York, to handle media for its upcoming youth-oriented model, the Scion. Scion is expected to debut in June in California, with a national launch set for 2004. Independent agency Attik, San Francisco, handles Scion's creative account. Billings are estimated at $50 million-plus.

Food Network
has named Margeotes Fertitta + Partners
in New York as its new agency. Food had recently narrowed the field of finalists to Grey Global Group's GWhiz! Entertainment, the incumbent, as well as CMG Communications
and Ziccardi Partners Frierson Mee; all are New York-based shops. The account is estimated at $5 million-plus. Earlier this month, Food's Scripps Networks
stable mate HGTV
tapped Doner as its agency.

Sponsored Programming

In the latest twist of the reality genre, NBC
and Interpublic's Magna Global USA
are developing The Restaurant as a six-hour, unscripted summer series. The concept: Follow a restaurant's staffers as they start an eatery in Manhattan and deal with their customers. Unlike on Candid Camera, however, participants will know upfront that they're in a TV show.

Magna and NBC will share the program's ad inventory and develop eatery-related product-placement opportunities, with American Express
the first known commitment. Magna recently put together the deal under which Johnson & Johnson has sponsorship and development roles on a package of TNT movie dramas, including Door to Door and Miss Lettie & Me.


Interpublic Group of Cos.' Initiative Media
studies the increasing number of reality-genre television series on a case-by-case basis, to determine whether they're appropriate to its clientele. The media-buying unit points out that the TV networks' midseason prime time roster offers a batch of reality shows that fall into three major categories: the relationship show (like Fox's Joe Millionaire), the talent contest (CBS's Star Search) and the minor-celebrity vehicle (ABC's I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!). "One advertiser's gem is another advertiser's stone," said SVP/Group Director Peter Butchen, adding, "Can you imagine any leading advertiser running spots in a program where dead rats are tossed from mouth to bucket three years ago? Today, it's a regular occurrence on Fear Factor," a consistently sold-out NBC series. Said Initiative Media EVP Tim Spengler, "It is our responsibility to be vigilant in monitoring program content in this genre."