Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

April 2009 Archives

Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago said Thursday that the agency and its Executive Creative Director Dean Hacohen have agreed to part ways. The agency said it would conduct an aggressive search for his replacement. The agency also said it is looking for a creative leader with a pedigree the shop can leverage and the experience to handle the evolving and integrated needs of C-K's diverse portfolio.

With Hacohen gone, three of Chicago's largest ad agencies now are without creative leaders. DDB/Chicago has been searching for a CCO for more than a year, and Leo Burnett began a similar search several weeks ago.

News of Hacohen's exit comes as C-K was announced as one of four finalists for the TGI Friday's ad account. The other three finalists are the Martin Agency In Richmond, Va.; Doner in Southfield, Mich., and Publicis/New York.

SimonBadinter_2.jpgIf there are any lingering doubts in the radio world that Program Director Kevin Metheny was brought on board to shake up and expand the somewhat older-skewing audience base at news-talk WGN-AM (720), the Chicago debut on Sunday of Frenchman Simon Badinter and his "Simon Rendezvous" show should quickly dispel them.

Badinter may be a stranger to Chicago and WGN listeners, but he is very much a known quantity -- and something of an oddity -- in Cleveland. Yes that would be Cleveland, Ohio, where rivers used to catch on fire and where Metheny was based before he abruptly turned up at WGN in December to replace Bob Shomper, who abruptly jumped to news/talk WLS-AM (890) as program director.

For the past two years Badinter, who was born and raised in Paris, France, has been doing his "Rendezvous" schtick at WTAM-AM (1100), and Badinter has had a fun time playing his worldly sophistication off against the somewhat more provincial mindset of his Cleveland listeners (no offense intended Clevelanders!) But Badinter would tell you that his radio show's real appeal has less to do with his aristocratic Frenchness than it does with the wide-ranging topics he chooses to discuss every week and the heated debates he apparently sparks with lots of listeners. Recently, for instance, he has addressed gay marriage and the cojoined themes of drugs and rock 'n roll. "My show is not really about what Simon says, it's about the passion my listeners have for the topics we debate," Badinter told us.

For his part, Metheny isn't predicting how Badinter will fare with many current WGN listeners who aren't necessarily used to interacting with an aggressively-opionated radio talent like Badinter, but Metheny is sure hoping he'll draw fresh, younger ears to the station. The curious -- young or old -- can tune in to Badinter's first three-hour WGN show at 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Something to tweet about. According to new research from Nielsen Online, Twitter may not be quite the next big thing some of its fans would have us believe that it is. It appears that a lot of newcomers to Twitter aren't sticking with the still relatively new platform for micro-blogging. In fact, new Nielsen Online data suggests a whopping 60 percent of those who sign up to use Twitter in any given month are no longer using it a month later.

The low user retention rates have led many more skeptical observers of the heavily-hyped Twitter phenomenon to question whether it will be around for the long haul because at some point not enough new users will sign up to replace the large numbers who are constantly defecting.

There are perhaps some legitimate uses for the quick info bits that comprise Twitter, but as a mass communication tool it strikes us as more of a passing fad -- especially among young users who no doubt will quickly tire of sending out and receiving vast amounts of often dull minutiae about their daily lives.

More layoffs at Clear Channel Communications in Chicago on Tuesday. Among those staffers shown the door today are Jeff Murray, who was known as Smash on WKSC-FM's (103.5) "Drex in the Morning" morning drive show. In addition to serving as music director for the show, Murray also was Drex's sidekick and engineer. Also let go were Troi Tyler and Irene Mojica from WVAZ-FM (102.7) and overnight host Erica Campbell at WGCI-FM (107.5).

The ax also fell on Bill Cochran, who was creative director at Clear Channel's smooth jazz WNUA-FM (95.5). One source described Cochran, who also filled in on occasion for on-air talent, as one of the station's most recognizable voices. Cochran had worked at WNUA for more than two decades.

With Cochran having been let go, a source said WNUA had lost the last of its "heritage voices." Cochran's departure also fueled speculation that Clear Channel might be preparing to introduce a new format at WNUA, which has not proved a huge moneymaker for Clear Channel in recent years. Some observers familiar with the Chicago radio market believe it might make sense for WNUA to go country. CBS Radio's WUSN-FM (99.5) is the only major country-formatted station now operating locally.

A Clear Channel spokeswoman said Tuesday that the company had to adjust its business to the realities of the current economy and advertising market. She added the layoffs on Tuesday "complete a process begun in January" when Clear Channel laid off a number of staff.

Sheepish_3.jpgSometimes you just have to cringe. Of course every ad campaign wants to differentiate itself from the rest, but it's how ad agencies go about achieving that goal that sinks more than a few well-intentioned efforts. No one will fault True Value, a retailer-owned hardware cooperative, and its ad agency Marc USA/Chicago, for trying to separate the hardware chain from the rest of the pack in a category where there is a lot of competition that advertises quite heavily. Hello Lowe's and Home Depot.

True Value apparently has determined that spotlighting its store clerks is a smart way to differentiate itself, though we recall Home Depot has, in the past, gone a similar route. A couple of new True Value spots breaking this week seek to have fun with the fact the aforementioned clerks -- known in True Value parlance as "associates" -- are remarkably knowledgeable and even more astoundingly aggressive about demonstrating their vast store of information -- even to the point where they seem a bit smarmy about it.

The back-and-forth banter between associate and customer in each of the True Value spots is clearly intended to be amusing. And it is -- in a mild sort of way. But what finally upends this particular campaign is that real clinker of a campaign theme line -- "Masters of All Things Hardwarian" -- that comes at the end of each commercial and is highly visible in various print and outdoor executions. Hardwarian? Could Marc USA have found a more awkward, off-putting neologism? We don't think so. If this is meant to be clever, please give us dumb and simple instead.

We are perfectly willing to consider that premise that True Value has well-informed sales assistants, but we don't need to have it summed up in a theme line that simply makes the whole subject of customer service sound totally absurd.

Lew's view: C+

The Chicago Sun-Times significantly outperformed the industry average during the six-month circulation reporting period that ended March 31, 2009.

While most major American dailies reported paid circulation declines, the Sun-Times remained flat at 312,141 Monday through Friday, per the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The S-T Sunday edition reported a 2.8 percent increase for the reporting period for a total average circulation of 254,379, while the Saturday circulation grew .9 percent to 227,311. The Sun-Times now ranks as the nation's 15th largest daily newspaper based on Monday through Friday circulation. That's up from 21st place a year ago. Sun-Times executives attributed the circulation results to several factors, including targeted home delivery, aggressive single copy sales promotion and an increase in retail sales outlets.

The Chicago Tribune reported a 5.7 percent decline in its weekday circulation to 501,203, while the paper's Sunday edition dropped 4.5 percent to 858,256.

Broadway In Chicago, a presenter of live theatrical fare coming from or -- more often now -- headed to New York's Broadway, has over the last year made a major commitment to reach out to audiences via the latest Internet and mobile communication offerings.

BIC has long had its own Web site, of course. But more recently, it has started connecting with patrons via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and a dedicated blog. The latest twist, unveiled last week, is a new Broadway In Chicago iPhone app (the first from any theatrical entity in the United States) that provides detailed information and videos about current and upcoming BIC productions, as well as special offers and info about restaurants and parking garages near the Loop theater district.
David D'Angelo of Los Angeles-based LittleBoxCreations.com developed the new app. BIC Vice President and marketing honcho Eileen LaCario says the iPhone app and similar initiatives will help her organization connect with a broader range of theatergoers and enhance their interest in live theater.

"We've got to make live theater as accessible as possible, and things like our new iPhone app help do that," said LaCario. For more info about the new BIC iPhone app, visit www.BroadwayinChicago.com/iPhone.

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and its sister owned stations in New York, Los Angeles and seven other markets are today launching a new package of six original, advertiser-supported programs under the banner title "Live Well HD." The new programming will air on WLS's digital channel 7.2.

Emily Barr, president and general manager of WLS, and William Burton, executive vice-president, digital media, for the ABC-owned television stations group, jointly orchestrated the start up of the new HD program offerings. "We created 'Live Well HD' for a national audience hungry for high definition programming that will help them make sense of their busy lives," said Barr.

WLS's contribution to the "Live Well HD" programming package is "Let's Dish," hosted by Chris Koetke, dean of the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College. It's described as a cooking show that proves healthy food never tasted so good. Other shows in the "Live Well HD" line-up include the home makeover program "Home with Lisa Quinn," a fashion and beauty offering called "Mirror, Mirror," a health and medical program titled "Say Ahhh," an outdoors-focused show called "Motion" and "Advice For Life" about solving difficult life problems.

Complementing "Live Well HD's" digital broadcast schedule is an Internet Web site featuring a video player for continuous series streaming. The new content was produced primarily by ABC-owned television stations.

Will Warner Saunders be back?

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Will he or won't he? That's a big unanswered question involving news anchor Warner Saunders and NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. Saunders is slated to retire from a 28-year run at WMAQ at the end of May, but complications from a recent illness have made it unclear whether Saunders will in fact be back in person to sign off for the last time as the station's 10 p.m. news co-anchor. "We just don't know yet," said a WMAQ spokeswoman, though at least one source indicated that Saunders' belongings in his office at WMAQ already have been packed up. In the meantime, Bob Sirott has been filling in for the ailing Saunders on many nights at 10 p.m. Sirott is believed to be the co-anchor heir apparent at 10 p.m., but station management has not made that official yet either.

jim screen_bw[1].jpgJim Reath has added chief marketing officer responsibilities to his current role as group account director on the Sears business at Young & Rubicam/Chicago. In his new role, Reath will help on new business pitches and report to Kary McIlwain, president and CEO of Y&R/Chicago. "Jim is doing a terrific job on Sears," said McIlwain, adding, "as the lead on this significant business, Jim is intimate with our full range of capabilities and knows our strategic and creative depth."

Reath joined Y&R in April, 2008, after six years at Leo Burnett/Chicago. He has worked across a wide range of categories, including Kraft, Morgan Stanley, Visa, Panasonic, Amtrak and Embassy Suites. Reath began his career in Canada, working for DDB Needham and Ammirati Puris Lintas. He also spent time on the client side, handling marketing for Labatt Breweries in Canada.

Mira Lowe has been promoted from managing edtior to editor in chief of Jet magazine, a leading African-American newsweekly. In this newly-created position, Lowe will oversee all aspects of the magazine's editorial content, staffing and evolving direction on both print and digital platforms. "Mira is bright and well-respected throughout the industry and has a tremendous sense of news judgment," said Anne Sempowski Ward, president and chief operating officer of Jet parent Johnson Publishing Co.

Prior to joining Johnson Publishing in 2007, Lowe was the associate editor for recuitment at the Long Island, N.Y. newspaper Newsday. At Newsday, Lowe was responsible for recruitment and hiring, staff development and training and directing internship programs. Jet was first published in 1951, and now serves more than nine million readers weekly.

PX00049_7.JPGMark Mitten, chief brand officer for the Chicago 2016 organizing committee, will deliver a luncheon address on Saturday, April 25, during Depaul University's Marketing 2009 Symposium. Titled "An Era of Opportunity: Engaging the Consumer," the symposium takes place at the DePaul Center, I E. Jackson Blvd., in Chicago. Mitten will talk about marketing Chicago -- its brand, image and key messages -- to the world in support of the city's bid to host the 2016 Summer Olympics

Since the city's Olympic bid committee was formed in 2006, Mitten has managed marketing and brand strategy for that bid, including production of the committee's official bid videos shown to the International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission during their recent visit to Chicago. Mitten previously worked as a producer for Mark Burnett Productions on NBC's hit television show "The Apprentice." Mitten is also a former principal in the Chicago office of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Mitten now is involved in preparing marketing materials for the Chicago 2016 bid committee's final presentations to the International Olympic Committee, who will chose the 2016 host city in October. Besides Chicago, the candidate cities are Rio de Janeiro, Madrid, and Tokyo.

Otis D.Gibson.jpgPortfolio Night has become an annual event that happens on the same day (this year it's June 11) at ad agencies in 22 countries around the world and that allows young men and women about to graduate, or just graduated from, college to present their work and get constructive feedback from working advertising creatives. Given the current trying state of the ad industry, this may not be the most upbeat of nights. But who knows.
Portfolio Night this year in Chicago is being orchestrated by Gertrude Inc., a boutique shop that has a low, but hip profile. At least the agency's flashy Web site certainly suggests the shop is striving for hipness. DDB/Chicago, whose local profile isn't what it once was, had run the Portfolio event in Chicago in years past.

Gertrude founder and Chief Creative Officer Otis D. Gibson (not to be confused with the cricket player) told us he was happy to take over the event from DDB because he's always been a big supporter of young advertising talent in this city and likes to hire young recruits at his agency as often as he can. "I see lots of young talent with great ideas, but they need to learn how to implement," said Gibson.
Gibson has reserved Chicago's Relax Lounge for the Portfolio evening and commissioned Dale Levitski of "Top Chef" fame to prepare what are being characterized as "small bites" for the occasion.

Since Gertrude is relatively small, the shop has reached out to creatives from other local agencies to interact with students at Portfolio Night. That list of participating professionals includes some familiar names, including Steffan Postaer, the famously quirky chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago, and Vinny Warren, the cheekily comedic creative director and founder of the Escape Pod/Chicago. Several creatives from Leo Burnett/Chicago also are on the list, as are Jim Schmidt and Joe Stewart from Downtown Partners and Paul Brourman from Sponge.

A bit of good news on the Michael Herlehy front. Don Brashears of Tom Dick & Harry Advertising/Chicago, tells us Herlehy, who is a founding partner at the agency, was back in Chicago recently to visit his family for a few days. Herlehy has been staying in Houston, where is undergoing extensive treatment for a recurrence of Hodgkin's cancer. Brashears said Herlehy came to the TD&H office for a couple of hours and was in good spirits. Brashears also told us Herlehy's treatment is still in the early stages, and it is still unclear when he can receive the planned bone marrow transplantation. But Brashears is hopeful Herlehy may be back at the agency around Sept. 1.

Meanwhile, the Herlehys have announced they are expecting their third child in September. Congrats are in order!

McDonald's Egg.jpgRemember "The Egg?" We sure do. The McDonald's billboard in the form of a giant egg was one of a small number of true advertising triumphs to come out of Chicago ad shops last year. And Leo Burnett/Chicago, a McDonald's roster shop created it. Now "The Egg" has won a 2009 Obie Award in the traditional billboard category. The Obie Awards are handed out by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. Per Nancy Fletcher, OAAA president and CEO, the Obie judges every year look to honor advertising that illustrates the essence of outdoor -- simple creative that surprises and delights audience.

"The Egg," designed to crack open at daybreak to promote McDonald's fresh breakfast offerings and then slowly close up as lunch draws near, is surely one billboard execution that beautifully showed the power of great outdoor work last year. Quite coincidentally, we're sure, Leo Burnett Worldwide Chief Creative Officer Mark Tutssel headed the panel of judges that selected the 2009 Obie winners.

The Chicago White Sox will broadcast the first episode of "Orgullo Sox" (translation: "Sox Pride"), the team's signature Spanish-language television show, on Sunday, Apr. 19, on Telemundo Chicago. "Orgullo Sox" enters its third season on the air and will broadcast 12 times this year on Sundays at 10:30 p.m. The 30-minute show is presented by Miller Lite and hosted by local television personality Johana Londono and White Sox Spanish radio play-by-play announcer Omar Ramos. The show features one-on-one player interviews, community and fan profiles and segments on social life in Chicago, along with game highlights.

X00096_7.JPGThe ax has fallen on four employees in NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5's research and promotions department and its sales department, sources confirm. These are the first of what are believed to be more cuts to come in the station's news operation, where everyone is in the process of being "rehired" and trained to do more than one job. WMAQ honcho Larry Wert maintains he has yet to determine how much the news department operation will shrink, but some worried staffers believe the reductions will be significant.

Meanwhile, a WMAQ spokeswoman said the station has gotten no word from its about-to-retire news anchor Warner Saunders about when he plans to return to the 10 p.m. newscast. Saunders has been on medical leave since early March, and was supposed to return in mid-April and work through the end of May, when he is slated to officially retire from the station. Bob Sirott, who is supposed to formally replace Saunders as a 10 p.m. news anchor in June, has been filling in much of the time since the ailing anchor has been on leave.

You don't have to search hard nowadays to find disturbing news about the newspaper industry.

But a little bit of good news did surface on Wednesday via a new Harris Interactive Poll that indicates a whopping 90 percent of Americans continue to read and rely on their local newspaper -- both in print and online. The new survey was commissioned by Parade Publications. The survey also found that more Americans read a printed newspaper -- both weekday and Sunday editions -- than get their news from the Internet. Per the new survey, 65 percent of Americans read a printed newspaper on weekdays versus 57 percent who get their news from online sources. On Sundays the figures are 63 percent and 41 percent respectively.

Also the survey found that newspapers are considered more trustworthy than Internet news sites or blogs by a 2-to1 margin, and newspapers have better quality content than Internet news sites or blogs by a margin of 38 percent.

To some observers seeking to put the survey numbers in the best possible light, the results suggest a lot of people looking for news still recognize that quality content matters and that local newspapers in their respective markets are still best at gathering news where they are based. We can only hope all of these findings help people, especially teens and twentysomethings, realize the value of newspapers and take an interest in what it is they do.

The new survey was conducted among a nationally-representative sample of 1,004 adults age 18 and over, with a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications on Wednesday announced a new level of commitment to local community affairs programming in all the markets where it has broadcast outlets. In Chicago, Clear Channel's holdings include six radio stations ranging from urban contemporary WGCI-FM (107.5) to adult contemporary WLIT-FM (93.9) to top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5).

The enhanced commitment spans five areas: charitable partnerships, public service announcements, local public affairs programming, local advisory boards and 24/7 accesses to station management for local officials. "We are materially increasing our commitment to community programming, increasing our accountability and broadening our public service contributions in every local market we serve," said John Hogan, CEO of Clear Channel Radio.

Expanded charitable partnerships will be determined at both the local and national level, and will in some instances extend to national public service sponsorships.

There was a glimmer of good news for the Chicago ad industry in the announcement Tuesday of 27 finalist ad campaigns for the 2009 Kelly Awards, bestowed annually to both ad agency creative teams and advertising clients whose magazine campaigns demonstrate creative excellence and effectiveness in meeting campaign objectives. The awards are given out by the Magazine Publishers of America organization.

Euro RSCG/Chicago -- the local shop that resolutely refuses to return to a corpse-like state despite its decision last week to hand over a chunk of its business to a so-called start-up conflict shop called Palm/Chicago -- was named a Kelly finalist for its Valspar paint magazine work. And Leo Burnett/Chicago, which is looking for a new chief creative officer after the shop parted ways with John Condon, also was named a finalist for the Caesars hotel and casino chain campaign with the tag line "The Life You Were Meant to Live." Yet a third Chicago shop, Energy BBDO, was named a finalist for its Canadian Club campaign with the tag line "Damn Right Your Dad Drank It."

The MPA's Kelly Awards were established in 1980 to honor Stephen E. Kelly, who devoted his career to magazine publishing and promoted the theory that creative magazine advertising made the difference in sales results.

On Monday trade publication Adweek unveiled its annual report cards that give a letter grade to most major American ad agencies for their overall performance during 2008. And the news was not at all good for at least three shops with major presences in Chicago.

The DDB network, which includes its flagship Chicago office, could do no better than a C+, while Leo Burnett, whose flagship office also is in Chicago, managed only a C. And with a C-, DraftFCB, which last week won the Miller Lite account, scored the lowest grade of the three major shops in Chicago. Cramer-Krasselt had the best -- though hardly stellar -- showing of any of the Chicago-centric agencies with a B-.

Still, the report cards (which included no "A" grade for any agency) are further evidence -- if any more were needed -- that all is not well in the ad industry. The grades they handed out should also indicate to Adweek editors that they might be well advised to focus more of their reporting efforts on what is going on inside ad agencies that has led to this decidedly lackluster set of marks.

Too much of the online editorial in both Adweek and its principal competitor Advertising Age nowadays is devoted to issues peripheral to the real business of advertising, which presumably is what both magazines were created to cover.

JWT/Chicago: a requiem

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We thought it would be a long, long time indeed before another top advertising executive disgraced the profession on a scale commensurate with the pathetic antics of Julie Roehm, who was kicked out of WalMart in 2006, for the brazenly shameless way she is said to have handled herself and her marketing responsibilities at her former employer. But barely three years after that extraordinary debacle, JWT North American CEO Rosemarie Ryan has managed to one-up Roehm.

Just over a week ago, Ryan came to Chicago to tell the 50 or so remaining employees at the vastly diminished JWT/Chicago that the local shop will shut down forever in 60 days. Even though she was here to close a Chicago agency with an unusually rich history spanning more than 100 years, Ryan did the dirty deed quickly and then refused to address questions from the media, except for a few cursory remarks to Advertising Age -- among them her startling admission she didn't know why JWT/Chicago had failed.

Ryan's observation surely will live in infamy as infuriating evidence of what sad shape the American advertising industry is in circa 2009. If executives such as Ryan who are paid handsomely to manage and grow ad agencies don't know what's happening or why, how can there be any hope for this once fun and hugely creative industry to find its way out of the dark, depressing hole into which it is sinking?

Certainly Ryan is not alone among the current crop of executives contributing to the ad business' woes. Several other Chicago agencies have faltered badly in recent years -- DDB and Leo Burnett to name but two -- as management has proved unable to restore the luster and vibrancy to these battered shops.

In the days since Ryan delivered her bombshell to JWT/Chicago, there has been an outpouring of nostalgic reminiscences from former and current employees at a newly-formed Web site www.ripjwt.com. It's remarkable to see how many people recall the fun times at an agency that was -- once upon a time -- a real creative beehive.

Nostalgia is nice, but it might behoove all these Web posters fondly remembering the JWT/Chicago that was to focus less on the long-ago happy past and more on the real and disturbing problems of today that have led to the shop's demise. And more importantly, to speak up and help push for change in a business that desperately needs to.

While we wait and wonder if DDB/Chicago ever will name a new creative leader, the agency still is losing accounts. Midas, the chain of car maintenance shops, quietly exited the agency in January and moved its ad business to Moroch & Associates in Dallas, Tex. Midas had been a DDB client since 2003. Around the time Midas exited DDB, longtime DDB creative Gary Alfredson, who had worked on the business, also left the agency. A Midas spokesman said Alfredson had worked on a radio campaign for Midas after he and the company's account left DDB. Midas apparently has revamped its advertising strategy to focus more on tailoring ads to individual markets rather than running national brand advertising. Moroch reportedly has extensive experience regionalizing marketing efforts. Moroch also works with other franchisors, including McDonald's.

WLS-AM turns 85

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Chicago's news/talk WLS-AM (890) will celebrate its 85th anniversary with the airing of "The History of WLS" on Sunday from noon to 2 p.m. The Chicago radio station has been known through the years as Sears' radio station and the voice of agriculture as it broadcast news and entertainment to listeners in 38 states. In the 1960's and 1970's, WLS was "The Rock of Chicago" and home to "Music Radio." Today, the station is known as the place "Where Chicago Comes to Talk," and it features local hosts such as Don Wade & Roma, Mancow & Cassidy and Roe Conn. The nation's top two talkers, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, also are among the syndicated hosts.

Sunday's anniversary program will highlight such former WLS personalities as Gene Autry, Andy Williams, George Goebel, Dick Biondi, Larry Lujack and John Landecker, as well as big stories, big sounds and other big names that altogether have helped create the legend that is "The Big 89."

PX212_3FF2_7.JPGComcast SportsNet would have us believe the Chicago White Sox season opener Tuesday on the sports cable channel drew huge television ratings. But that wasn't really the case. At least not in comparison to the Chicago Cubs season opener that aired Monday on CSN. The early afternoon game time may have been a factor in the lower White Sox ratings.

The White Sox opener against the Kansas City Royals pulled a 3.23 rating for the live afternoon telecast, and scored a 4.24 peak rating during the 3:15 p.m. quarter hour. The previous high rating for a White Sox season opening game came on Apr. 4, 2005 game against the Cleveland Indians, which had a 2.38 rating on CSN.

It has been said that women control more than 80 percent of all purchasing decisions. Yet more than 70 percent of all advertising is created, approved and selected by men. Furthermore, research suggests women and men respond differently to brand messaging, so what works for men doesn't always work for women. Consequently, much of today's advertising does not resonate with women. That is a problem that Tom Jordan, executive creative director at Hoffman York, an agency with offices in Chicago and Milwaukee, has addressed head on in his new book "Re-Render the Gender," which can be ordered via Amazon.com.
The book includes a series of ads that have been researched by online panels, focus groups and other independent services to help readers understand what messaging works -- or does not work -- with women. Jordan's book also examines how the pursuit of creative excellence and the powerful influence of awards can distract marketers and agency creatives. Such distractions make agencies focus on creating edgy advertising that too often misses the mark.

PX174_0D21_7.JPGThe Chicago Cubs season opener against the Houston Astros was a massive ratings hit for Comcast SportsNet, scoring an 8.14 for the live high-def telecast Monday night. The peak 10.4 rating came during the 7:45 p.m. quarter hour. The 8.14 is the highest Cubs season opener game rating in Chicago regional sports network television history. The previous high, a 6.48 rating on Fox Sports Net, came on Apr. 5, 2004, at Cincinnati.With a 4.6 rating, Comcast SportsNet also was the highest-rated television network in the Chicago market Monday night from 6 to 9 p.m. in the key adult 25 to 54-year-old demo.

Comcast SportsNet's plan to offer 24 hours of baseball coverage on Monday, including live coverage of both the Cubs and Chicago White Sox opening day games, was thrown a curve ball when the White Sox abruptly postponed their Monday opening day game against the Kansas City Royals until today.

Beginning today, two of news/talk WLS-AM's (890) popular syndicated talk shows will begin an hour earlier. That means the locally-originating afternoon drive "Roe Conn Show" will now sign off on weekdays at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. "The Sean Hannity Show" will air from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, and Mark Levin's syndicated show will run from 9 p.m. to midnight. According to Talkers magazine, Hannity is the second most-listened-to talk show host in America after Rush Limbaugh, whose syndicated show also airs on WLS-AM. Starting in early May, former WMAQ-Channel 5 reporter Amy Jacobson will join Roe Conn as his latest sidekick.

WLS-AM is owned and operated by Citadel Broadcasting, the nation's third largest radio group with stations in more than 50 markets.

X00198_7.JPGThe search goes on. Janet Davies, the host and executive producer of WLS-Channel 7's "190 North" program is being very thorough in her search for a new correspondent to replace the departed Lou Canellis on the weekly,lifestyle show. That search began last fall, and Davies told us she has finally narrowed the field of candidates to three, all of whom will be
featured in new "190" shows to be broadcast in upcoming weeks. Davies wants
to be sure each candidate understands what the job entails and how
comfortable they are with that. She also wants to gauge audience response.
Davies hopes to name the newest "190" on-air team member by mid-May. "It's
a hard task," said Davies, "because I truly hate disappointing anybody once
we choose."

PX158_479D_7.JPGThe Oprah Winfrey Network, set to launch in early 2010, announced on Thursday some of the programs in development for the TV channel, which will replace Discovery Health. The Oprah Winfrey Network has been described as the first network about living your own best life.

Among the shows in development is "Master Class" (working title), which will profile the most extraordinary people of our time, hand-picked by Winfrey herself. These people will share with viewers who they really are -- their passions and best life lessons. "Surfer's Healing" is a docusoap produced by Snackaholic about former competitive surfer Izzy Paskowitz, his wife Danielle, their three children (one of whom is autistic) and their surf school business. "Excellent Adventure" will follow celebrities and their best friends as they embark on the adventures they've always dreamed of taking.

And in "Exposed: Lisa Ling Investigates," Ling will explore offbeat worlds and examine aspects of news stories viewers might otherwise not see.

It's official. As first tipped here Wednesday, WGN-AM (720) has named veteran Chicago radio talent Garry Meier as the host of the news/talk radio station's mid-afternoon show from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. He will begin his new show Friday, Apr. 3.

Meier is no stranger to tens of thousands of avid radio listeners. For 15 years he was half of one of the most successful of all radio on-air parings when he co-hosted the "Steve & Garry Show" with Steve Dahl, who is no longer on air. Meier also worked for eight years alongside Roe Conn on the "Roe & Garry Show."

In announcing Meier's hiring, WGN Vice President and General Manager Tom Langmyer described the new mid-afternoon host as "contemporary, smart, hip and fun." Most importantly, though, Meier is likely to attract a somewhat younger demo to WGN, which has a large, loyal, but somewhat older listener base.

What a time to start an ad agency, right?

With ad agencies everywhere watching revenue shrink and cutting staff, it hardly seems the best moment to open a new shop. But don't tell that to the three guys who have just swung open the doors of Third Street Partners, which has offices in Chicago and Indianapolis. The principals behind the new agency are President Sean Smith, who was formerly adult rock WXRT-FM's (93.1) director of marketing and led the station's non-traditional revenue department.

Joining Smith as chief creative officer is David T. Jones, who most recently led the Emerging Platforms division at DraftFCB/Chicago and who currently authors trade publication Adweek's "Ad Land." Third Street's Chief Operating Officer is Andrew Thompson, who formerly was corporate controller at Chicago's BP Capital Management. Smith and Thompson are heading up Indianapolis operations, while Jones is in charge in Chicago.

Third Street describes itself as the first-ever "Attention Agency." The agency's operating philosophy stems from the belief that attention is the foundation of any great business -- meaning attention to the consumer, the brand, the competition, the details and the bottom line. As Smith told us: "By paying attention, an agency such as Third Partners is then able to command attention."

Despite the tough economic climate in which Third Street is launching, Jones believes it's the right thing to do. "Right now, probably the only thing scarier than launching a company is still working for a big one," Jones said. Smith said the agency will unveil its client roster over the next several weeks. The agency's name, by the way, derives from the address of the Indiana University fraternity where the three principals first met.

Is an announcement imminent? News/talk WGN-AM (720) is said to be in the final stages of deciding what it is going to do about filling its mid-afternoon host slot, which has been vacant since John Williams moved to morning drive late last year. Sources indicated veteran Chicago radio broadcaster Garry Meier is still a frontrunner for the job, and he and his wife, who serves as his agent, were believed to be in the final stages of negotiations. But money was said to be a sticking point that could force WGN to go with a different scenario. If WGN does fill the mid-afternoon job shortly, the new host will face a big hurdle right away. The Chicago Cubs baseball season begins Monday, which mean WGN's mid-afternoon show will be preempted often over the next six months.

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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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