Chicago Sun-Times

Media and Marketing Mix

Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will broadcast 80 regular season games played by the Chicago Cubs during the 2011 season. The first will be on Apr. 2, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

New enhancements to Comcast SportsNet game telecasts this year include a new HD technology that is capable of showing slow-motion replays of over 2,000 frames per second.

Fans will also be able to watch "Pitch Trax," a technology that animates the precise pitch location throughout each game in a variety of angles. Pitch Trax will be available for every game that CSNC broadcasts.

Other enhancements being made this season to Cubs broadcasts include an all-new graphics package and scoring data that features real time stats in a variety of key categories.

AB1_2654 - Version 2.jpgKnow your target audience. That's important when marketing a show. "Working," a Broadway in Chicago presentation of a musical based on a book with the same name by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago author Studs Terkel, certainly considers the working men and women of Chicago a key audience because this is a show, after all, about working people. A broad cross-section of workers, ranging from a housewife to a waitress to a hooker (yes, they work too), raise their voices in compelling song to tell of their lives as everyday workers

So to help attract more of that audience that should feel a natural connection to the theme of the musical, the producers of "Working" have unveiled a promotion aimed directly at that significant group of people who belong to labor unions in Chicago.

Beginning today, workers with a union card will get 20 percent off tickets for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening performances when ordering at the box office, on the phone or online with the code "union." All those taking advantage of the discount should be prepared to present their union cards when arriving to see the show at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.

WFMT-FM (98.7) and WBEZ-FM (91.5), two Chicago radio stations that take in a significant part of their respective operating budgets from listener contributions, have both met or exceeded their fund raising goals in just-completed pledge drives.

Fine arts station WFMT set a goal of $525,000 for its recently-completed 10-day winter pledge drive, and it reached that goal on the 10th day with some 8 1/2 hours to spare before the drive was set to end.

During an eight-day pledge drive that ended Mar. 10, public radio station WBEZ secured 9,198 donations that generated revenue of $1.12 million, well above the $1 million set for the drive. The successful pledge drives at both stations suggest the public appears to be in more of a giving mood as the economy starts to turn around.

Still, WFMT used all kinds of inducements to get listeners to pledge funds. Among other things the station experimented with a "$50,000 by mid-day" strategy. The station promised to break from fund raising for the rest of one day if it could raise $50,000 by 1 p.m., which it did. And the audience for WFMT's "The Midnight Special" once again proved especially generous. They contributed five percent of the station's total fund raising goal in just four hours.

At WBEZ, 44 percent of the donors during the just-completed drive were new members to the station, a number that is typically closer to 20 to 30 percent. The monies raised at WBEZ represent about 5.6 percent of the station's total operating budget.

David Kimbell has been named vice-president of marketing at Chicago-based U.S. Cellular. He will be responsible for the development of strategic branding and communications initiatives that drive customer growth and loyalty, including the Belief Project. The company's marketing, customer strategy, brand and media relations teams report to Kimbell.

Kimbell most recently served as chief marketing officer and senior vice-president at Seventh Generation, an environmentally-friendly household products company. Prior to that he held positions within PepsiCo, including vice-president of marketing for the Quaker Foods division. Kimbell's "experience of connecting consumer insights with superior customer service and strong leadership skills make him a perfect fit for our organization," said U.S. Cellular executive vice-president of operations Alan D. Ferber.

Douglas Fir.jpgWell we went, and we experienced the 2011 Chicago Addy Awards reception at Resolution Digital Studios on the city's west side. But before we offer a few observations about the experience itself, we must report the big news: Leo Burnett walked off with the Best of Show Award for its "Mayhem" television campaign for Allstate Insurance.

The top award winner came as no surprise, really. The pre-reception buzz suggested the campaign was headed for the winner's circle. We personally have not been among its biggest fans, as scare-tactic advertising just doesn't work so well for us. But it is certainly a well-produced and well-acted effort, and we can see how others might have fancied it a winner.

What of the awards reception itself? Well, it made manifest what was most obvious about the outcome of this Chicago Addy competition -- the first of its sort in nearly a decade. Though there were said to be 400 entries overall in a multitude of categories, what seemed apparent Thursday night was that Leo Burnett and its Arc arm picked up an alarmingly large number of the awards.

There was some (quiet) grousing among those in attendance about Burnett's dominance, but for better or for worse, that's the way the judges saw it. Of course the outcome may have had something to do with the number of agencies that chose to participate. As always, the cost of entering was a consideration that ultimately kept some shops from participating as fully as they might have wished.

As for the reception itself, we liked it. Yes, the number of people in attendance seemed on the low side, but that, quite frankly, made it a much more pleasant experience for those who were there. The spacious warehouse environment was surprisingly warm and inviting, and the decibel level was sufficiently low to allow for actual conversation -- a huge plus from our vantage point.

From talking to the executives in charge of the evening we gathered that this Addys format will be the template for a local awards show for the foreseeable future, unless some group comes up with a better idea that is fundable and can be executed without undue complication.

We'll say this much for the folks that put on this 2011 Chicago Addy Awards event. They actually did an awards event, and they kept the focus exactly where it should be -- on the work and a simple, unfussy reception to honor the winners and celebrate the Chicago advertising community.

The battle for the $1 billion S.C. Johnson advertising account -- one of the most hotly-contested and closely-watched agency reviews of the new decade -- is moving along.

Sources now tell us the agencies in serious contention for the $1 billion S.C. Johnson account now housed at DraftFCB/Chicago may have been whittled down to no more than five. And (drum roll) they are said to be (in alphabetical order): incumbent DraftFCB; McGarryBowen; Ogilvy & Mather, TBWA/Chiat/Day, and Young & Rubicam.

David Beals at R3:JLB/Chicago, which is orchestrating the review in conjunction with S.C. Johnson executives, declined comment. But sources say S.C. Johnson wants to make a decision by the start of its next fiscal year in July. Or preferably several weeks earlier.

The winner, of course, will need to have some global heft to service such a huge account in all markets where it must be serviced. And any of the aforementioned shops certainly would have the necessary resources at their disposal to handle the S.C. Johnson business globally.

But our sources say McGarryBowen, which has had huge success courting Kraft Foods accounts in recent years, just may have an edge. Sources say Mark Modesto, ousted abruptly from DraftFCB last summer, has been reaching out to McGarryBowen, which could possibly be interested in his services once his non-compete clause with DraftFCB expires. Modesto could be key in deciding how this review plays out because he is said to still be very close to key members of the Johnson family that control the giant household products company.

And though McGarryBowen itself does not have a huge international network, it is now part of Dentsu, which is well-established internationally.

More on the new project front at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. Sources tell us it looks as if an early evening weekday newscast at the station will continue to remain on hold for the foreseeable future. What is more likely to debut in the near future, however, is a weekend morning news product that mirrors those on other local stations such as ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.

The added weekend package would give the station a chance to say it is expanding news coverage without risking the loss of advertising income it receives from syndicated programming that now airs when an early evening newscast might on weekdays. Sources say Anita Padilla most likely would anchor the weekend morning news product and recently-arrived Tammie Souza would handle weather. A WFLD spokeswoman, however, said she knew of no weekend morning news in the works.

At 1:04 p.m. Monday, CBS Radio Chicago's WJMK-FM (104.3) will switch to format featuring classic hits from the 1960's, '70's and '80's that management believes will improve the station's fortunes in the Arbitron ratings. The new format replaces an adult hits format that had been in place since 2005.

Well-known Chicago radio personalities Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon are returning to the CBS Radio Chicago fold to anchor WJMK's new morning show from 5:30 to 10 a.m.
Eddie and Jobo, as they are more familiarly known, were famously dumped from CBS Radio Chicago's Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3) three years ago to cut costs when the economic downturn hit the radio industry hard. The duo also had outgrown B-96's 18 to 34-year-old core audience demo.

At the time of their exit from B-96, Volkman and Bohannon were part of the city's elite corps of so-called "million dollar mouths" -- on-air talent that earned a million dollars or more a year for their services.

CBS Radio Chicago market manager Rod Zimmerman wouldn't discuss terms of WJMK's deal with Volkman and Bohannon, but their new salaries are believed to be considerably less than a million dollars a year.

Joining Eddie and Jobo at the newly-formatted WJMK will be Bo Reynolds, another former WBBM-FM jock who had a show there from 1987 to 1990. Reynolds will anchor afternoon drive from 3 p.m to 8 p.m.

Yet another WBBM-FM alumnus, Gary Spears will host mid-days on the new WJMK from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting March 21. Broadway Bill Lee, a talent from New York, will fill in until Spears starts. Spears was on air at B96 from 1982 to 1984 and again from 1990 to 1994. Zimmerman said another host will be named soon to anchor WJMK's evening show starting at 8 p.m.

Zimmerman said the new format will be "high energy, music intensive and locally driven." Added Zimmerman: "The CBS Radio network is very familiar with this format, and we have had a lot of success it in other markets."

Speaking as one, Eddie and Jobo said of their new gig in a statement: "To be rookies again, starting on a brand new radio station in our hometown is, well who said 'you can't go home?'."

Everybody ready to party? After a select committee spent more than a year supposedly trying to figure out what kind of awards show Chicago's ad industry should have, it probably surprises no one that, for now, it's going to be the tried-and-true Addy Awards format.

The Chicago Addy Awards reception is set for Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. at Resolution Digital Studios, 2226 W. Walnut in Chicago. Organizers of the event tell us agencies submitted some 400 pieces of work for consideration, of which 92 were honored with awards. But there will be no lengthy awards ceremony tomorrow. Only the Best of Show Award will be handed out live at the reception, so everyone can focus on admiring the work and enjoying themselves.

The return to an Addy Awards format is a curious turn of events at the very least. Armchair historians may recall that discontent with the stodgy Addys was what prompted local advertising honchos to rethink things several years ago. That rethink initially led to the debut of the Chicago Creative Club Awards and the infamous bricks (creativity, you know) that were handed out. But as the Chicago ad industry started to falter, and more agencies began fighting to stay afloat, the CCC event became harder to pull off.

Finally it fell apart, even as a few brave souls tried to maintain some kind of awards show. But nothing stuck. Now the Chicago Advertising Federation, sensing nothing was in the works to replace the Chicago Creative Club concept, fell back on the familiar Addy Awards. Maybe it's all for the best. We'll know more when we see how things go Thursday. See you there.

It's official. Rafer Weigel will become the new weekend sports anchor and reporter at top-rated WLS-Channel 7, effective March 21. He replaces Ryan Chiaverini who was recently named co-host of Channel 7's new live morning show "Windy City Live."

Rafer Weigel, 41, is the son of the late Tim Weigel, who was a TV sports anchor and reporter and newspaper sports writer for many years in Chicago. Tim Weigel spent 17 years as a sports anchor and reporter at Channel 7.

WLS news director Jennifer Graves called Rafer Weigel a "talented broadcaster who has worked hard to earn his stripes." She also said Weigel "loves this city and has never lost his passion for following Chicago sports teams."

Most recently, Weigel was a sports anchor on CNN HLN in 2008.

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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