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Dell plans ad campaign, following Lenovo

Dell doesn't want to be outdone by rival Lenovo on the advertising front.

Dell plans to start an $80 million ad campaign this month, to help boost slowing sales of its personal computers, Bloomberg News reported.

Chinese PC maker Lenovo, which has a headquarters in Morrisville, started its own ad campaign last month, with an estimated cost of $100 million.

The campaigns even feature similar, dueling taglines.

Cheerwine introduces first Miss Cheerwine

For those who always thought Cheerwine should be promoted by a leggy 23-year-old blonde in Daisy Duke shorts, you're in luck.

The sugary soft drink announced today that it has chosen Spencer Cummings to be the first ever Miss Cheerwine. She's a High Point native and University of Alabama grad who now lives in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“Born and bred a North Carolina girl, I introduced all of my friends and college roommates to the drink and brought back cases of Cheerwine before we could buy it in Chattanooga, so I feel I’ve been an ambassador all my life,” Cummings explained in a release.

“I can’t wait to communicate my true love for Cheerwine and put a smile on people’s faces with the Cheerwine experience this summer.”

She'll spend the summer travelling around the South doing promotional events. The summer tour kicks off at FUBAR in Raleigh on Friday night.

Dex One CFO Blondy to resign

Steven M. Blondy, the finance chief of Dex One, plans to resign from the Cary yellow pages publisher.

Blondy, 51, will step down by July 31, and the company has started a search for  a new chief financial officer, Dex One announced this morning.

He will receive a lump-sum separation fee of $2.6 million, plus other benefit payments, Dex One reported in an filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Blondy has been CFO of the company previously known as R.H. Donnelley since March 2002.

Charlotte ad agency wins state tourism account

Charlotte advertising and marketing agency Luquire George Andrews has won the N.C. state tourism account for the next five years, Charlotte Observer staff writer Mark Washburn reports.

During pitch meetings with the state, LGA offered proposals to promote tourism in fresh ways, including social media and other developing technologies, LGA President Peggy Brookhouse said Wednesday.

“Our point was that it’s a strong brand, and we just want to work with the division to enhance it and use technology,” said Brookhouse, who learned Tuesday that LGA had won the high-profile account beginning July 1.

Other major LGA clients include BB&T, Novant Health and Piedmont Natural Gas.

LGA was one of five finalists for the account, worth about $7 million annually, said Margo Metzger, spokeswoman for the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. Every five years, the account goes up for review.

McClatchy earnings hurt by ad, circulation declines

The McClatchy Co. reported weaker first-quarter results, hurt by ongoing declines in advertising and circulation revenue.

The Sacramento, Calif.-based company publishes The News & Observer, Charlotte Observer, Miami Herald and other newspapers across the country. Its shares fell 10 percent Tuesday to close at $3.19, and are down 42 percent in the past year.

Despite the slowly reviving economy, newspaper publishers are still struggling with soft ad sales, especially for their traditional print product. McClatchy and others continue to slash costs and look for new ways to boost their digital content and revenue.

Blue Cross calls out 'scapegoats' for rising health costs

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is tired of playing the scapegoat.

The state's largest health insurer will announce this morning that it's beginning a major marketing campaign to emphasize that many parties share the blame for rising health costs. The message is that those groups, including insurers, doctors, hospitals, drug companies, lawyers and consumers, must work together to reduce medical costs.

The effort will include TV commercials and other advertising with goats portraying the various groups. The Chapel Hill company also is starting a website, www.letstalkcost.com to spur more discussion about how to control medical costs.

The risk is that consumers, physicians and others who already blame Blue Cross for surging insurance premiums may see the ads as the powerful company spending more money on marketing that simply attempts to deflect criticism.

N.C. Hardee's franchisee to run 'Miss Turkey' TV spots

Boddie-Noell Enterprises has blessed the latest TV ads for Hardee's, which feature a bikini-clad Miss Turkey promoting the fast-food chain's new turkey burger.

Rocky Mount-based Boddie-Noell is the country's largest Hardee's franchisee. The family owned business also is known for its conservative culture: Boddie-Noell bosses previously have refused to run other provocative Hardee's promotions in this market.

The new TV spots will begin airing Thursday night during the NCAA tournament games, said spokesman Rick Rountree. The ads promote Hardee's new line of "under 500-calorie" turkey burgers, which are an effort to attract customers seeking healthier fare.

Dex One CEO buying 'undervalued' shares

Dex One's top executive, hired last year to revive the struggling yellow pages publisher, is trying to boost its stock price by buying more shares.

CEO Alfred Mockett purchased 200,000 shares at an average price of $4.10 each, the Cary company disclosed after the close of regular stock-market trading today. That's an investment of about $820,000.

So-called insider purchases can signal to other investors that top management believes that the stock is undervalued. The company is eager to reverse the stock's sharp slide.

Sokal Media relocates from Raleigh to Cary's Regency Park

Sokal Media Group, an advertising firm that specializes in automotive companies, has moved its headquarters from Raleigh to Cary's Regency Park and more than doubled its space.

Mark Sokal, the firm's CEO, said the company has signed a seven-year lease for 7,000 square feet.

Sokal started the firm eight years ago. It now employs 17 people and has more than 100 clients.

The company has hired seven new employees since April and is looking to hire two more.

Last summer, Sokal Media Group purchased The Magna Group's North Carolina office operations.

Michael Jordan helped win over Blue Cross CEO

A late October meeting with Charlotte Bobcats owner and basketball legend Michael Jordan helped seal the deal for Brad Wilson.

Wilson, the CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield, announced Friday that the state's largest health insurer has revived a sponsorship deal with the professional basketball team. Financial terms of the one-year deal weren't disclosed.

Wilson talked with Jordan for about 15 minutes when he was in Charlotte on other business and stopped by the Bobcats' offices.

"I didn't go there to negotiate the terms and sign a deal, but my visit certainly validated the alignment of the interests of the two organizations," Wilson said.

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