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Jenny McCarthy took photos with a BlackBerry Bold at the New Year's Eve bash in Times Square.

Dropping the ball, unfortunately, could have been Research In Motion Ltd.'s slogan for 2011. But the BlackBerry maker chose to ring in the New Year with a happier ball drop: Its Bold smartphone was everywhere in New York's Times Square, as a sponsor of Dick Clark's famed New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast. When assistant host and former Playboy playmate Jenny McCarthy wasn't kissing local cops she was taking pictures with a BlackBerry smartphone or introducing musical acts performing in front of the company's billboards. It's a sign of RIM's efforts to woo lukewarm U.S. consumers in 2012. In December, RIM executives told analysts that they would spend $100-million on marketing in the U.S. this quarter, after its advertising efforts last year fell short.

MDC Partners Inc. got the new year started by adding to its conglomerate of advertising firms. The company announced on Thursday that it has acquired New York firm RJ Palmer. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. RJ Palmer brought in an excess of $800-million in media billings from clients such as Ben & Jerry's ice cream. "Although we have long been in the media planning business, our media buying capabilities have been on a modest scale," MDC chairman and chief executive officer Miles Nadal said in a statement. "In the coming year, we will look to make acquisitions that will expand our scale, scope and expertise in the media business, specifically in digital, social media and direct response."

The holidays were not so sweet for Alec Baldwin in his role as spokesman for U.S. grocery chain Wegmans – at least, not at first. This week, the news emerged that the Rochester, N.Y.-based company was pulling holiday ads featuring Mr. Baldwin and his mother, because of negative backlash surrounding a December incident. (Mr. Baldwin was booted from an American Airlines flight after rebuffing requests to turn off his smartphone.) Inundated by another wave of customer feedback supporting the 30 Rock star, Wegmans is putting the ads back on the air. What really stands out about the spots is the oddly earnest tone: The actor, who normally performs with tongue planted firmly in cheek, glides around the stores sampling reasonably priced chef-prepared meals and singing the praises of baked goods. "We enjoyed working with Alec Baldwin and his mom, Carol, and would do it again," the company said in a statement.

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Susan Krashinsky

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