Issue: "Daniel of the Year 2003," Dec. 13, 2003

Retro retail

SHE MAY BE OLDER THAN THEIR moms, but Barbie is still a big hit with young girls.

First introduced at the New York Toy Fair in 1959, Barbie tops the list of most popular toys for girls this holiday season, beating out items like Bratz, Leap Frog, Dora the Explorer, and Care Bears.

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"Barbie is one of those toys that transcends time," said Scott Krugman, a spokesman for the National Retail Federation, which conducted the annual survey to discover what adults plan to shop for in the coming weeks. "It doesn't matter if it's the holidays or not, Barbie is always popular."

The bigger surprise was the resurgence of retro toys on the Top 10 list, including Care Bears and My Little Pony. "What it shows is that parents like to buy for their young children the toys they enjoyed as kids," Mr. Krugman said. "The toys that are the most popular are the ones that parents can relate to from firsthand experience."

For boys, most consumers plan to buy toy cars and trucks. Other hot items include Game Boy, PlayStation and other video games, as well as Hot Wheels and Hulk merchandise.

Toys, though, aren't at the top of the shopping list for most adults. More people will be buying clothing, books, CDs, DVDs, and gift cards. Overall, the National Retail Federation expects holiday sales of $217 billion, a 5.7 percent increase over last year.

Cola as hero

The latest advertising campaign developed for the nation's No. 2 seller of soft drinks aims to make Pepsi your first choice this holiday season. But instead of spending a fortune on celebrities like Britney Spears and Beyonce to tout the brand as lifestyle choice, the new ads will focus on something different: the actual drink. "We want to show that Pepsi goes great with food," said Pepsi's Nicole Bradley.

Created by New York ad agency BBDO Worldwide, the "Pepsi. It's the cola" campaign kicked off last month during an NFL broadcast on ESPN. Marketing on billboards and at bus stops began this month with veggie wraps, spaghetti, and other foods displaying their affection for Pepsi.

"We've always been good at communicating Pepsi's brand image-spirited, spontaneous, contemporary, and exciting-but now it's time we shine the light on the product itself," said Dave Burwick, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Pepsi-Cola North America. "We're making cola the hero."

Balance sheet

Sprint Corp. will lay off 2,000 workers by the end of the year to lessen operating expenses. The telecommunications firm has now cut more than 21,000 jobs in just over two years. In October, Sprint reported losses of $498 million in the third quarter.

A travel study by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that-for the first time-the number of automobiles owned by American households (1.9) is greater, however slightly, than the number of drivers per household (1.8).

Lehman Brothers, a New YorkÐbased financial-services firm, became the first contractor with the city of Chicago to acknowledge past ties to slavery under a 2002 city ordinance requiring the disclosure. In an affidavit, the company said the three brothers who founded the company in 1850 in Montgomery, Ala., bought at least one slave and may have owned others.

A survey conducted by the National Association of Retailers showed median home prices jumped at record levels during the third quarter of this year. The national median is now $177,000, up 10.1 percent from 2002.

Unless Ford Motor Co. exceeds its own fourth-quarter expectations, the company is likely to be surpassed as the world's second-largest automaker by Toyota this year. The world's No. 1 automaker is General Motors.

Under an agreement with the New York attorney general, four major tobacco companies-Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, U.S. Smokeless, and Brown & Williamson-will no longer advertise in magazines distributed to school social-studies classes and libraries.


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