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

June 2009 Archives

JPA_boy.jpgThe folks at Euro RSCG/Chicago didn't come home from the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival with a boatload of Lion trophies, but at least they were lucky enough to be honored by the Mayor of Cannes and a group called ACT Responsible for a print ad the agency created for an organization called the Juvenile Protection Association. The honored ad called "Choke" was part of a series designed to make the point that verbal abuse towards children is just as damaging as physical abuse. The tagline for the honored campaign is "verbal abuse is still abuse." The public voted the child abuse campaign their favorite caused-related effort from among a number of ad campaigns on display in an exhibition at the Cannes fest.

jesse white1.JPGTim Smithe thinks it's the Smithe furniture empire's "prettiest" commercial to date. That may be, but the new spot featuring the three by-now-iconic furniture mavens is certainly not their most inspired bit of marketing lunacy. This newest Walter E. Smithe Furniture spot just now breaking has the three brothers sitting with Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White on a couch in front of Chicago's famed Buckingham Fountain. Though it's hardly a key point in the new spot, the couch on which all are seated is from the company's new Pierre Deux French Country furniture collection.

At the top of the spot we see the three Smithe brothers start mouthing French to each other as subtitles at the bottom of the screen seem to offer a translation of what the boys are saying. But anyone with even a passing familiarity with French will quickly realize what the Smithe boys are saying doesn't remotely jive with the translation -- a gimmick that creates confusion in the mind of the viewer. What's worse,though, is that it isn't funny. In any event, White suddenly mutters something in French too as the camera catches White's famed tumbling team waiting in the wings -- as it were. On cue, they start trampolining over the men seated on the couch. It's a fairly impressive feat -- exquisitely captured against a bright blue sky and the Chicago loop skyline.

But alas, the beauty of these visuals doesn't make up for the fact the commercial lost us at the beginning with all the French-speaking schtick. Still, some good will come out of the spot -- the Smithe brothers are supporting both the Buckingham Fountain restoration and the Jesse White Tumbling Team -- an organization that dates back to 1959, when it was founded as a juvenile delinquency prevention program.

Lew's view: B-

Sources say Vernon Hills-based CDW, the computer supplies reseller, has narrowed its search for a new ad agency to two finalists: the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., and Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago -- two agencies that are vastly different in size and public profile. Martin, of course, is famously known as the shop that won the huge WalMart account from DraftFCB/Chicago, which had the business for just a few weeks. O&M has seen various pieces of business come and then go over the past several years, including Quiznos, Kraft Foods' Oscar Mayer unit and, of course, a large chunk of Sears business. O&M/Chicago remains best known for its recent "real beauty" work on the Dove beauty brand.

Gone from the CDW review, it appears, is DDB/Chicago, which had been pushing hard, we were informed, to remain in the running for business. No indication of when CDW will announce a winner.

Picture 16.jpgOkay. We'll come clean. We were hardly fixated on what was happening in the south of France at the horrendously over-hyped, overrated event known as the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. But from a Chicago perspective (and granted there wasn't much of a Chicago perspective to worry about at the fest this year), there was one interesting development. The Escape Pod/Chicago proved it could compete with some of the biggest (but not necessarily the best) acts in Chicago, including Leo Burnett and DDB. Yes, Vinny Warren and the folk at the Escape Pod wowed 'em at Cannes with two of the commercials the agency created last summer for OfficeMax's delightful back-to-school ad campaign.

You remember the work. It was all about a guy going around New York City trying to pay for expensive jewelry and vehicles with nothing but pennies. "Used Car" and "Jewelry Store" from that campaign were both shortlisted in the Film category at Cannes -- a phenomenal achievement given that the Escape Pod had never before entered work at Cannes.

Meanwhile, among the city's biggies, Burnett managed only two commercials on the short list -- "Brother of the Bride" for Hallmark Cards and "Zach Johnson" for Tampax, while DDB had only one piece of work shortlisted, the "No Fry Left Behind" for McDonald's. DraftFCB also had one spot shortlisted -- "Crib" for client Qwest.

LilyTomlin_Photo.jpgBernie's found some new business. The times, as we all know, ain't what they used to in the Chicago ad industry. Still, stalwart ad man Bernie Dimeo of DiMeo & Co./Chicago has found a piece of new business in downstate Carbondale, of all places. DiMeo & Co. has been awarded a five-year contract to provide marketing and public relations services for Southern Illinois University/Carbondale's Department of Event Services, perhaps best known for its Southern Lights Entertainment performance series.

Southern Lights Entertainment presents approximately 10 to 20 performances a year featuring artists such as Lily Tomlin, Crystal Gayle, B.B. King and others. "As a proud alum of SIU, I'm thrilled to be returning to campus for the first time in . . .well a lot of years," said DiMeo. It's also good to know the alma mater is good for some new business as well as a degree, right Bernie?

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Bernie's found some new business. The times, as we all know, ain't what they were in the Chicago ad industry. Still, stalwart ad man Bernie Dimeo of DiMeo & Co./Chicago has found a piece of new business in downstate Carbondale, of all places. DiMeo & Co. has been awarded a five-year contract to provide marketing and public relations services for Southern Illinois University/Carbondale's Department of Event Services, perhaps best known for its Southern Lights Entertainment performance series.

Southern Lights Entertainment presents approximately 10 to 20 performances a year featuring artists such as Lily Tomlin, Crystal Gayle, B.B. King and others. "As a proud alum of SIU, I'm thrilled to be returning to campus for the first time in . . .well a lot of years," said DiMeo. It's also good to know the alma mater is good for some new business as well as a degree, right Bernie?

WGCI-FM imports two new hosts

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Loni Swain Photo.JPGUrban contemporary WGCI-FM (107.5) has added two new hosts to its talent lineup effective July 6. Loni Swain will host mid-days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Originally from New Orleans, Swain most recently hosted "Loni's Love Lounge" on Foxy 95.5 in St. Louis. Consuella Williams will host evenings from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. Williams, a New Orleans native, previously was at WPEG-FM in Charlotte, N.C., where had had hosted "Grindtime" since 2006. WGCI Program Director Kris Kelley said the two new hosts will "bring a unique flair and familiarity to WGCI-FM." Flair maybe. But we're not sure about the familiarity. Neither of the new additions has worked in Chicago, so they both have a lot of learning to do, it would seem.

Veteran WGN-AM (720) reporter Max Armstrong is joining Farm Progress as director of broadcasting effective July 6. Armstrong will oversee Farm Progress' recent addition of a new broadcast unit providing radio, television and enhanced Web programming for the agricultural market. Armstrong has been an agribusiness reporter at WGN for over 30 years.

In addition to his new duties at Farm Progress, Armstrong will continue to co-host with colleague Orion Samuelson WGN's agriculture program "The Morning Show," at 5 a.m. on Saturdays. In pursuit of the news of agriculture, Armstrong has originated broadcasts from every state in America and at least 30 foreign countries.

Is the beer stein half full or half empty? Certainly the folks at Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago want --in the worst way -- to believe it's still half full. But the fact remains the agency, which has worked on the Corona business since 1993, has lost a bit of its grip on the business.

Chicago-based Crown Imports, which distributes Corona Extra and Corona Light in the United States, said Thursday it is giving the Corona Light ad business to Publicis/New York on a project basis -- at least at first. Crown Import sources said the project could evolve into an agency of record relationship at some point.

Light brews, of course, have been the most aggressively marketed beer products in recent years, which suggests Publicis may be getting the best part of the Corona account with which to work. And what of that ad work that will come from Publicis for Corona Light? Sources say it isn't clear yet whether Publicis will try for something that resembles the low-key touch C-K has made famous in its advertising for Corona and Corona Light over a number of years. But it's likely, as one source put it, that Publicis will come up with a campaign "somewhere down the beach," which is another way of saying Publicis will offer up creative that won't be easily confused with the work C-K did on the business.

For now, C-K appears to be content with what it's been left with, but there has to be a bit of uneasiness within the agency ranks now that Crown Imports has made this move toward Publicis. Time will surely tell us whether that beer stein we previously mentioned is now indeed half full or half empty at Cramer-Krasselt.

Liz Ross back in biz?

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We hear digital honcho Liz Ross, cut loose from Tribal DDB earlier this year, is thisclose to signing with a new firm, probably here in Chicago. A couple details regarding her new gig have yet to be finalized, but word has it that Ross will be back in business sooner rather than later. Ross disappeared suddenly from Tribal DDB, and not much was said at the time about the reasons for her departure. But Ross has subsequently been a presence on the talk circuit and was heard to make remarks that suggest she wasn't exactly cool about the way things were handled at Tribal DDB in regards to her tenure there and her abrupt exit. Since leaving Tribal DDB, Ross has been busy helping organize the upcoming Chicago Creative Awards show "No Show" set for Sept. 10.

Pet guru Steve Dale to WLS-AM

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News/talk WGN-AM's (720) loss has now become news/talk WLS-AM's (890) latest gain. Citadel Broadcasting-owned WLS has picked up "Steve Dale's Pet World," which for many years had been part of WGN's Sunday lineup. But Dale and several other weekend hosts were dumped by WGN a couple of months ago when the station began revamping its host and programming lineups to create an edgier sound.

Dale's show will air from 2 to 3 p.m. on Saturdays on WLS, and an additional hour-long show will be available online on demand at www.wlsam.com. Dale's first live program is this Saturday. Dale also is the host of two nationally-syndicated programs and has been hosting local radio in Chicago for the past 12 years.

WLS Program Director Bob Shomper previously held that job at WGN before he jumped to WLS last fall. Shomper appears to be interested in retaining at WLS some of the hosts who for many years made WGN a popular destination for a large number of listeners -- though the demos of those listeners tended to skew older. Bill Moller, another former WGN weekend host who did a personal finance-oriented show, let go along with Dale, also has been auditioning for a berth at WLS.

The buzz is building. Email and phone messages have come in today advising us that a fairly sizable crowd is expected to show up tonight at Lizzie McNeil's Pub, 400 N. McClurg Ct., by the Chicago River, for the first happy hour aimed at generating interest in the upcoming Creative Club Awards "No Show" at the Riviera Theatre on Sept. 10.

Tonight's fun begins at 5:30 p.m. The "No Show" organizers -- Matt Brennock, Lizz Ross and Katie Juras -- have told us repeatedly that they want this upcoming CCC show to be just as much about reviving some sense of community within Chicago's ravaged ad industry as it is about handing out awards to deserving creative. To that goal, we say "here, here."

Stephen Leps and Zig/Chicago are sponsoring tonight's get-together -- their way of saying they support the goals of the evening and the CCC show organizers. Leps, as many may know, is new to Chicago. He's still learning his way around, and perhaps because he's relatively new to the scene, he believes we can be a great and close and creative community once again. He may have much still to learn about what history has done to the Chicago ad business. But for now Leps remains a dreamer. And that's good thing. So party on everyone.

CBS Radio-owned sports/talk WSCR-AM (670) made its debut in HD this morning. It is being simulcast at 104.3 HD2, a HD channel attached to CBS Radio's adult hits WJMK-FM (104.3). Fans of WSCR who have HD-equipped receivers will now be able to hear Score programming with a much clearer sound. A source at WSCR said there are still no plans, however, to simulcast WSCR on WJMK, a move that would mirror what CBS Radio has done with some of its AM sports outlets in other markets, including Detroit.

GERTRUDE_PN7_26.JPGThe annual Portfolio Night in Chicago has come and gone. And we hear from chief organizer Otis Gibson of Gertrude Inc./Chicago that the event was well-attended. More than a hundred young people looking to launch a career in advertising showed up at Chicago's Relax Lounge on the near west side to have their portfolios critiqued by some of Chicago's most high-profile creative talent, including Gibson, Kevin Lynch, Vinny Warren, Paul Brourman, Reed Collins, Bob Winter and Steffan Postaer, who, of course, loves to be wherever the action is perceived to be.

Gibson said that, in conjunction with the Captivate Network, his Gertrude agency is now selecting a short list of the best work exhibited by the young talent present for Portfolio Night. That work will be exhibited in some 368 Captivate Network elevator screens in buildings that house 21 ad agencies around Chicago. Gibson is hopeful the additional exposure will help some of the young talent that attended Portfolio Night land a job "with lots of late nights," as Gibson put it.

Joe Bartolucci is rejoining Leo Burnett Group/Chicago as a senior vice president and creative director to work on the Kellogg's business and other brands. He will be working on both digital and more traditional initiatives at Leo Burnett and its marketing services arm Arc Worldwide. Most recently, Bartolucc was a group creative director at Tribal DDB/Chicago, where he worked on accounts ranging from LensCrafters to Lowe's and Tropicana Twister. He also was a senior copywriter at Marc USA.

Molly Kelly has been promoted to station manager at Weigel Broadcasting Co., parent of WCIU-Channel 26, among a variety of other TV outlets. Kelly is formerly the director of marketing & promotions for Weigel Broadcasting's Chicago stations. In her new role, she will oversee day-to-day operations of the marketing, promotion, content, programming and Web departments. "Since joining our station group almost 3 years ago, she has proven herself as a leader and someone who can get the job done," said Neal Sabin, executive vice president, Weigel Broadcasting.

David Miranda.jpgClear Channel Radio/Chicago's Spanish contemporary Mega 95.5, formerly WNUA-FM (95.5), has added evening and midday hosts to its talent lineup. Chicagoan David Miranda will host evenings from 7 p.m. to midnight, and Diane Fong will host middays from 10 a.m to 3 p.m. Miranda began his radio career at the age of 14, at the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago's community radio station WCYC-FM (90.5) He also has worked for Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. as a news-talk show producer, Big City Radio Corp. as morning show hot and producer, and at Univision Radio as an on-air talent and promotions director. Fong, originally from Mazatlan Sinaloa, Mexico, comes to Chicago from Mega 94.9 in Miami, Fla., where she was on-air during morning drive and mid-day on Sundays.

Rejoice, ad folk. That sorely-missing sense of community within the Chicago ad biz appears to be in the early stages of finally making itself manifest. We stress, of course, that word "appears," because as we all know in the Chicago ad world, appearances can sometimes be deceiving.

In a previous blog posting we tried to calm concerns that the organizers of the upcoming Chicago Creative Club Awards show on Sept. 10 might do away with a judged ad competition. They have told us that is not what they intend to do.

But what they are intent on doing, in addition to organizing the September event, is helping to foster a real feeling of camaraderie that has been too-long absent in the local ad business, which has suffered mightily in recent years. Towards that end Matt Brennock, Liz Ross and Katie Juras -- the chief organizers of the upcoming CCC show --have also organized what they hope will be the first of quarterly happy hours to bring together all who toil in the local ad biz.

This first get-together is slated for June 25th at Lizzie McNeill's pub at 400 N. McClurg Court, beginning at 6 p.m. And we're happy to say that Stephen Leps and his crew at Zig/Chicago have stepped up to sponsor this first gathering for all who call themselves Chicago ad folk.

So mark your calendars. And let the camaraderie begin.

He's back, but not exactly back in Chicago. John Records Landecker, a powerhouse presence on WLS-AM (890) during the 1970's, is returning to the airwaves on WIMS-AM (1420) in Michigan City, Ind. Starting Monday, he will co-host a daily talk show on the station with Paula Griffin. Landecker has lived in Michigan City for the past six years. He and Griffin will discuss issues of interest to locals on their call-in show, which will be broadcast weekdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Landecker also will be working again with WIMS General Manager and morning show host Ric Federighi, who previously worked with Landecker at WLS. "This is a continuation on the promise that I made to the community two years ago to bring the highest-quality local information and entertainment to the South Shore," said Federighi in announcing Landecker's arrival at the station. Landecker said he was looking forward to the creative freedom of doing local radio.

Bob Sirott exits WMAQ-Channel 5

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Respected veteran Chicago broadcaster Bob Sirott is out at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5. WMAQ Station Manager Frank Whittaker informed the station's staff this morning of Sirott's exit. Sirott was expected to be a 10 pm news anchor alongside Allison Rosati, but negotiations apparently hit a snag over a clause in Sirott's contract that promised him a boost in salary along with his increased responsibilities. Sirott was scheduled to go on vacation today. He will not return to the station.

As of Monday, VSA Partners/Chicago, one of the city's hottest branding and design firms, will have a new River North address -- 600 W. Chicago Ave. VSA's new 30,000-square-foot space is in one of the buildings that was formerly part of the defunct Montgomery Ward headquarters compound. In addition to VSA, the building houses a David Barton gym, Japonais restaurant, condos and, per VSA President James Koval, a number of other tech-savvy tenants.

VSA is moving from a 27,000-square-foot space at 1347 S. State, which was spread over two-floors. Everyone will be on one floor at the new address -- a plus that made the new location especially attractive, said Koval. That and the new address' many high-tech features.

Among other things, VSA Partners is famous for having designed Chicago's original Olympic logo -- an elegant torch in a range of colors that suggested the city's close ties to the land and the water. Unfortunately that logo had to be abruptly dumped when the International Olympic Committee reminded the Chicago 2016 organizing committee that no city bidding for the Olympics is allowed to use any iconic Olympic imagery in their branding efforts until it has been designated an Olympic host city. VSA came up with a replacement logo now in use that features a large star intended to call to mind Chicago's official flag.

He's back. One of Chicago's most gifted advertising creatives very soon will be back in business. And -- we're happy to reveal -- he'll be back in business at Energy BBDO/Chicago, where starting Monday, he will be on board as creative lead at Promixity/Chicago, the agency's digital unit. Energy BBDO clients include chewing gum behemoth the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and the Illinois Lottery. Lynch will report to Andrew Kaspryzycki, managing director of the Proximity division at Energy BBDO.

Lynch exited Zig/Chicago last February after sources said he and Zig co-founding partner Steve Carli clashed -- a dust-up that Lynch at the time emphatically denied took place. For a while, Lynch was hanging on the west coast while he mulled what he wanted to do next in his career and where he wanted to do it. But with his long ties to the Chicago ad community, Lynch apparently decided he wanted to maintain those ties, and Energy BBDO was apparently happy to help him do that.

Energy BBDO Chief Creative Officer Dan Fietsam said Lynch has "a unique blend of outstanding creative taste, a macro and integrated approach, entrepreneurial savvy and leadership." Sources who know Lynch said his new agency and job should be a good fit for him. "Kevin will be with a lot of like-minded people at Energy BBDO," said one source. Lynch was known for doing work at Zig that was both quirky and smart -- and often wickedly funny.

Meanwhile, Zig/Chicago's new creative leader Stephen Leps arrived from Zig's headquarters office in Toronto in February to pick up where Lynch left off. Leps has said he intends to work hard to take the small shop to the next level.

When it comes to prevailing in new business pitches, DDB/Chicago doesn't have much to show for its efforts of late -- having lost out in a bid for the Radio Shack account that agency insiders, we're told, were confident was winnable. The fact that DDB has no chief creative officer may have had something to do with its failure to nab Radio Shack. Or it just may be that the shop's pitch didn't resonate with the intended audience.

But whatever the case, DDB now appears to have learned how to play hardball to stay in the running for new business as long as possible. DDB is one of several shops still believed to be contending for the CDW ad account, which has been quietly in review. Vernon Hills-based CDW is a reseller of computer hardware and related supplies. Sources say that when it became apparent that DDB was about to be eliminated from the review, DDB parent Omnicom Group, which just happens to be a CDW customer of some size, ever so subtly dropped hints it might have to rethink vendors for its computer supplies.

Needless to say, the hints were heard. DDB has remained in the review, we're told. Sources now say a decision on which agency will win the CDW account is expected shortly.

Omar Romero Headshot.jpgClear Channel Radio is going with one of its own to handle the key afternoon drive host job at Mega 95.5, the new contemporary Spanish music-formatted station that debuted on May 22. Beginning June 15, Omar Romero will handle both afternoon drive responsibilities and the program director job for Mega 95.5. The call letters for the new station have not yet been designated.

Romero most recently was afternoon drive host and program director at the Clear Channel's Houston outlet KLOL-FM (101.1), which has a contemporary Latino pop sound. He also previously held various programming and on-air jobs at Clear Channel outlets in Dallas and Albuquerque. Romero was born in El Salvador and moved with his family at an early age to Houston, where he started his career at KLTN-FM (102.9), which has a regional Mexican music format.

Mega 95.5 replaced smooth jazz WNUA-FM (95.5). Clear Channel dumped smooth jazz because it wasn't generating enough ad revenue to continue as a viable format.

Matt Spiegel has been tapped as Dan McNeil's new sidekick at CBS Radio's sports/talk WSCR-AM (670). Spiegel, who most recently was a nationally-syndicated talk show host for the Los Angeles-based Sporting News Radio Network, will be at McNeil's side when "The Danny Mac Show with Matt Spiegel" debuts at 9 a.m. on Monday on the Score. Spiegel is no stranger to WSCR -- he previously was a reporter and host at the station for some six years, starting in the mid-1990's.

"I'm honored and excited to get my dream job at the place I consider my sports radio birthplace," said Spiegel, who in his spare time is lead singer for the rock band Tributosaurus, which he founded. He has also been heard singing numerous commercial jingles, including Feldco and several car dealerships and casinos.

Rest easy, ad folk. There will in fact be a judged advertising competition at the upcoming Chicago Creative Club Awards show slated for Sept. 10, at the Riviera Theater in Uptown. In recent days, we've heard from some concerned creatives that the organizers of this year's show -- dubbed the "No Show" -- might try to cut out the ad competition altogether and focus on celebration and community-building.

But the event's organizers -- Matt Brennock, Liz Ross and Katie Juras -- told us over lunch Monday they have no intention of doing away with the awards. "We just don't want that to be the sole focus of the event," explained Ross. Celebration and community-building, the organizers hope, will be at least as important a goal as handing out awards. And Ross and Brennock emphasize that Chicago's ad industry has a lot of work to do in the community-building department. At last year's CCC show at Soldier Field, attendance was pegged at around 400 people. But we're told that the Minneapolis ad show typically pulls in a whopping 2,500 people. And even in Detroit, where the ad community has been especially hard hit by the economic downtown, the awards show attracts upwards of 900 or more attendees every year.

To help boost interest in the Chicago show, Ross wants to, as she puts it, "work from the bottom up," -- getting a lot of the youngest and newest members of the ad community excited about attending. And she's using Facebook and Twitter and other forms of social networking to help reach this constituency directly.
Meanwhile, look for a show in September where only the top awards are handed out on stage. But there will be more categories this year in which to win awards -- especially in areas that involve post-production, which has not been a focus of previous CCC competitions. Brennock also hopes to land a good music act or two that will light up the Riviera stage and entertain everyone.

The call for entries for this year's show is expected to go out on Friday. The organizers also have begun reaching out to local ad agencies for sponsorship cash to help fund the "No Show." They also hope to move a whole lot more tickets to this year's show at a significantly reduced price of $50 per ducat.

Even the Internet -- considered a must-buy for many advertisers in recent years -- isn't immune to the economic downturn. Internet advertising revenues in the United States were pegged at $5.5 billion for the first quarter of 2009, according to figures compiled by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. That figure represents a 5 percent decline over the same period in 2008. "Interactive advertising has taken its rightful place as a fixture on marketing plans across sectors, which means we aren't immune to broader economic trends," said Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the IAB. "We're confident that growth will resume as the U.S. economic climate improves," added Rothenberg.

The Illinois Lottery has awarded Burrell Communications/Chicago a $6.4 million contract to provide public relations and advertising aimed at the African-American community.

Burrell won the business in a review that included three other agencies, including Flowers Communications Group, E. Morris Communications and Carol H. Williams Advertising. According to Sarah Cummins, marketing director for the Illinois Lottery, Burrell Communications stood out in the review. "They (Burrell) have a long and distinguished record of results and have worked with a host of top-named companies," said Cummins. The lottery contract was awarded to Burrell for an initial term of two years, with two one-year renewals possible.

Energy BBDO/Chicago is the general market agency of record for the Illinois Lottery, a state agency with annual sales of over $2 billion. Since its inception, the Lottery has contributed more than $14 billion to the Common School Fund to assist the state's public schools.

The recession is obviously going to have a big impact on the ad industry's annual beach party cum awards competition in Cannes, France. The total number of entries in this year's Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival totaled 22,652, a whopping 19.9 percent drop from last year's record-breaking 28,284. What a difference a year makes, eh?

The number of entries in the film category plummeted 25.4 percent, while press entries plunged 32 percent. Even the number of entries in the Cyber category took a big hit, dropping 20 percent. The Outdoor category was similarly affected, falling off 23 percent. There is major growth in one category. But that is because the PR category (for public relations entries) is new this year. It drew 431 entries. This year's Cannes Festival is slated for June 21 through 27.

N'Digo turns 20 years old

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N'Digo, an African-American alternative weekly publication, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009. Hermene Hartman, who founded the publication in 1989, became famous for her "publisher's page," which offers social commentary about issues important to the African-American community.

The paper also includes news profiles, business stories and features on topics of interest to Chicago's black middle class. Founder Hartman moved into publishing after her tenure as vice-chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago, the nation's second-largest community college system. She was the first woman to serve in this capacity overseeing media and community relations, as well as marketing and publishing. It was while at City Colleges that Hartman recognized the need for a publication such as N'Digo, in which she aims to offer an honest representation of African-American culture.

N'Digo will formally toast its 20th birthday at a black tie gala on June 20th at the UIC Forum.

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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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