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

September 2009 Archives

The Chicago Wolves will return to network television this season when the team airs 15 home games on Fox-owned WPWR-Channel 50. All other games -- home, away and playoffs -- will continue to be broadcast live on Comcast Network 100. "We're pleased to be partnering with the Wolves to bring fans even more coverage of their favorite team," said Michael Renda, vice president and general manager of WPWR, adding "this deal is part of what we hope will continue to be a growing Chicago sports franchise presence of My50."

Comcast SportsNet marks its fifth anniversary on Oct. 1. To celebrate the occasion, the cable sports channel will air a one-hour special called "Comcast SportsNet: Behind the Lens" on Sunday, Oct.4 at 7 p.m. The program will include interviews with Comcast SportsNet Chicago president Jim Corno, senior news director Charlie Schumacher and various of the channel's on-air talent. Bloopers and outtakes over the past five years also will be part of the special. Over the course of the past five years Comcast SportsNet has aired more than 1,300 live professional sports games featuring the Chicago Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs and White Sox.

Sources report that ESPN Radio's sports/talk WMVP-AM (1000) president and general manager James Pastor has been promoted to a new post with ESPN's Web operations. No word yet on who will replace him at WMVP, but sources expect it most likely will be an ESPN radio exec with a sales background. Pastor, who did not respond to an email request for comment, reportedly was en route to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. on Tuesday.

Chicago investment experts Tom Haugh, chief investment officer of Chicago-based PTI Securities and Futures, and Jon Najarian, founder of trademonster.com, have relaunched online their talk radio show "Stocks and Jocks." The show's creators describe it as combining the market insight of Louis Rukeyser with the humor of Seinfeld -- offering stock market advice with a splash of sports.

The duo co-hosted an investment program under the same name at CBS Radio-owned sports/talk WSCR-AM (670) from 2002 to 2008, but left the station when management decided it wanted programming with more of a sports focus and less business. "Stocks and Jocks" now streams live at www.stocksandjocks.net from 11 a.m. to 12 noon CST. Listeners can ask questions during the live show by calling 888-76-jocks.

The secret is out. Longtime Chicago advertising creative Kevin Lynch is the brain behind ChicagoansForRio.com, the Chicago Olympic bid naysayer Web site that has been the subject of numerous media reports in recent days.

Since June, Lynch has been the top creative at Proximity, the digital advertising arm of Energy BBDO/Chicago, whose clients include Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co and the Illinois Lottery. Prior to joining Proximity, Lynch was for many years a top creative at Hadrian's Wall/Chicago, which was bought out by a Toronto ad agency and rebranded as Zig/Chicago.

Crain's Chicago Business reported Lynch was behind the site after a technical expert traced the Chicagoans for Rio Web registration to Lynch, who also has his own blog at blog.15-ideas.com.

Today Lynch posted on the blog a Q & A with himself explaining his reasons for creating the anti-Chicago bid site. He offers numerous reasons he thinks the International Olympic Committee should vote for Rio de Janeiro over Chicago. Lynch said he never expected his connection to the Chicagoans for Rio Web site to remain a secret. He said he's been wearing a Chicagoans for Rio T-shirt for several months.

Mike LeBaron exits WCFS-FM

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Mike LeBaron has been relieved of his duties as adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9) morning drive host, effective immediately, according to Bill Gamble, the station's program director. LeBaron had been in the job since 2007. While Gamble looks for LeBaron's replacement, midday host Rick Hall will take over LeBaron's former post as morning drive host. Gamble said he expects one of his yet-to-be-determined weekend talents to fill in for Hall middays starting Monday.

LeBaron's departure comes some two-and-a-half months after Gamble arrived as WCFS's new program director. Gamble also serves in the same capacity at country WUSN-FM (99.5), and both stations are part of the CBS Radio Chicago portfolio. Gamble declined comment on the reasons for LeBaron's departure, nor would he say what type of new talent he might be looking for to replace LeBaron. In the most recent August Arbitron ratings book, WCFS was in a tie for 19th place in the 25-to-54-year old demo in morning drive, and the station was in 21st place overall Monday through Sunday.

WGN-AM picks up a 2009 Marconi

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While some listeners would argue that change has not been good for Tribune Co.-owned news/talk WGN-AM (720), now the station's General Manager Tom Langmyer can just point to the 2009 Marconi Radio Award for best news/talk radio station to help silence his critics. Langmyer picked up WGN's award at a ceremony Thursday in Philadelphia. The Marconi Awards are handed out annually to honor excellence at radio stations and among on-air radio personalities.

WGN's 2009 Marconi Award comes after a period earlier this year when the station made a number of changes in its on-air talent lineup to help give the station an edgier profile. The changes, which upset a number of the station's longtime listeners, included the abrupt departure of mid-morning personalities Judy Markey and Kathy O'Malley.

The 2009 Marconi win is by no means WGN's first. In fact, the latest win marks the 10th time since the Marconi Awards were first presented in 1989 that WGN has been a recipient of one. The last win came as recently as 2007, when WGN was named major market station of the year.

OTSC Logo.jpgEuro RSCG/Chicago is hosting the annual Off the Street Club holiday luncheon later this year, but the agency is expanding on that project with other efforts to raise funds for Chicago's oldest club for boys and girls. One such event is slated for Friday, Sept. 25, when Euro and the Off the Street Club will set up a number of life-sized cut-outs of kids in Pioneer Court, near the North Michigan Avenue Bridge. The hope is that the cut-outs will draw attention to the kids the club is in business to help and encourage passers-by to make a contribution of at least $10 to the cause on the spot. Euro and the Off the Street Club are emphasizing that every little bit helps. For instance, $10 will buy a healthy snack for kids in the small-fry program, while $25 will help provide supplies for the club's music program. Euro RSCG's overarching theme for its Off the Street Club project this year is "Off the Street and On To So Much More."

heashot good scan.jpgA veteran of Chicago's ad industry, Steve Simoncic has been named chief creative officer of Jacobson Rost. In his new position, Simoncic will manage the overall creative product and the creative teams in the agency's two principal offices in Chicago and Sheboygan, Wis. He will be primarily based in the Chicago office.

Previously, Simoncic was chief creative officer at PEAK6 Energie, the marketing division of PEAK6 Investments, where he helped establish the financial services firm's branding division. Prior to PEAK6 Energie, Simoncic was a senior vice-president and creative director at Leo Burnett/Chicago, where he was employed for 15 years and worked on accounts ranging from Disney to Coca-Cola and Hallmark Cards.

"These days more than ever it takes much more than just a great creative idea to make an impact for our clients," said Jerry Flemma, president and chief operating officer for Jacobson Rost. Added Flemma: "It takes the considerable ability to fuse creativity with useful ideas that uniquely connect with people to make a positive impact in their everyday lives; Steve has a track record doing just that." In his spare time. Simoncic plays in a band and writes plays.

The Jacobson Rost client roster includes Azteca Foods, Fisher Nuts, the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. and Old Wisconsin Food Products, among others.

Veteran ad man Bernie DiMeo of DiMeo & Co./Chicago doesn't like to lose a piece of business. But that is what has happened. Turano Baking Co. has parted ways with DiMeo, ending a nine-year relationship.

After an agency review in which DiMeo participated, Turano has selected the Jacobs Agency/Chicago as its new agency of record. Jourdan Huys an assistant account executive at Jacobs, said Turano's new agency will develop a comprehensive marketing campaign for the local baking company over the next several months. The new campaign will help build brand awareness among Chicago area consumers, as well as interested trade audiences. DiMeo told us he hated to lose the business, but a change in top management at the baking concern apparently prompted the agency review and the subsequent selection of Jacobs.

LG Electronics has signed on to become an official NCAA corporate partner. Per the terms of this multi-year partnership, LG Electronics will have exclusive category marketing and promotional rights related to all 88 NCAA championship events across 23 different sports, including basketball and football. Together with the NCAA and CBS Sports, all LG Electronics consumer product divisions will leverage this relationship through integrated marketing programs planned and executed by lead agency 361 Degree Experiential/Chicago. These programs will include promotional activities, retailer tie-ins and print, broadcast and online advertising. The new partnership provides LG Electronics with the opportunity to speak to about 1,000 member schools, more than 400,000 NCAA student athletes annually and more than 100 million fans and alumni.

IMG_8953.jpgHard to believe, but it's been nearly two weeks since some 1,200 members of the Chicago advertising community trekked to the Riviera Theater in Uptown for the 2009 Chicago Creative Club Awards show. As the event's organizers -- Matt Brennock, Liz Ross and Katie Juras -- had promised, it was a different kind of evening. There were some good things (not least of all the large crowd, including many agency creative leaders), and some things that should have been handled differently.
But the 2009 event is history now, except for a few more words the show's co-organizers wanted us to help pass along to all who made it to the Sept. 10th awards show, as well as those who didn't. After carefully reviewing the contents of an open letter to the city's advertising community from Brennock, Ross and Juras, we have agreed to reprint it here to further its dissemination:

To all in the Chicago advertising community:

On behalf of the CCC 'No Show' committee, we'd like to take this, slightly belated opportunity, to say thank you to everyone who helped make this year's show an incredible success. (That would be you by the way.)
A humongous thanks, to our many generous sponsors, all the agencies and post houses who submitted work, our judges, the CAF and especially, to all who showed up 'en masse' on September 10th, to the steamy Riviera Theater to celebrate outstanding creative work and a community, which is far from being on death's doorstep.
We had the largest turn out in recorded history - sounds dramatic, even if it is ad hyperbole - for the show and in the process, proved there is still an actual community here in this, all-too-often, apathetic town.
Yes, the venue was warm. Yes too many of you failed to shut up and pay attention. And yes, the host failed to partake in a more thorough sound check. But all in all, it was an astonishingly fun time, and something we should all feel good about.
However, this night must be recognized for what it was - a wake up call. Now it's up to us all to find a way to come together for the greater good and not simply because the bar is open.
To that end, we'd like to invite one and all to join our Facebook group, 'SCMA'. We'll be hosting our second gathering in late November, and we'd love for you to be there. If you're in our industry, you belong in our group. Heck, we'd even love to see you client people join us too.
Finally, we wish to thank one of this community's biggest critics and one of its greatest supporters, for his help in making the show a success. (Ironic, ain't it?) However, he'd kill us if we called him out by name. Worse, he might take us to task in his column, and lord knows, there's no greater shame than that.

Thanks everyone. Stay awake, keep the faith and we'll see you all in November.

Matt Brennock, Liz Ross, Katie Juras.
The 'No-Show' Co-chairs.

Earl Jones, president and market manager of Clear Channel Radio Chicago, has named Matt Scarano as director of sales for the six radio stations Clear Channel operates in Chicago, including WLIT-FM (93.9), WKSC-FM (103.5), WGRB-AM (1390), Mega 95.5 (95.5), WGCI-FM (107.5) and WVAZ-FM (102.7). Most recently Scarano served as general sales manger for Citadel Broadcasting's WKHX-FM (101.5) and WYAY-FM (106.7) in Atlanta. Scarano's resume also includes stints at other Atlanta and includes experience working with direct clients, agencies, non-traditional revenue and digital clients. "Matt's strong sales background and passion for driving revenue made him a natural choice for our organization," said Jones. Ken Denton, current director of sales for Clear Channel Radio Chicago, moves to general sales manager for WGCI, WKSC and Mega 95.5.

The Chicago Bulls have inked a new broadcast partnership with Univision's
WRTO-AM (1200) to broadcast in Spanish 21 Bulls home games during the 2009-10 season.

The first game to be broadcast comes on Nov. 7, and pits the Bulls against
the Charlotte Bobcats. Omar Ramos will do the play-by-play on Bulls broadcasts, and Ozzie Guillen Jr., son of Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, will be the
analyst. For the past four seasons Guillen Jr. and Ramos have been the
voices of all White Sox Spanish radio broadcasts.

Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9 on Wednesday announced a major expansion of its newscasts. Starting Oct.5, the "WGN Midday News" will add 30 minutes and air from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with Allison Payne and Steve Sanders fronting the expanded newscast. The new assignment reunites Payne and Sanders, who previously anchored together on WGN's 9 p.m. newscast. WGN's early evening news also will expand from 30 minutes to an hour and air 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Mark Suppelsa and Lourdes Duarte will co-anchor the early evening newscast. WGN's flagship hour-long "News at Nine" will continue as is, with Micah Materre and Suppelsa as co-anchors.

Laughlin Constable, an integrated communications agency with offices in Chicago and Milwaukee, has merged with New York-based Partners + Jeary. The combined firm will have billings of $220 million, and 155 employees spread among three offices. "We are two firms with a similar vision and creative process," said Steve Laughlin, a partner at Laughlin Constable, adding "for more than 30 years L/C has built our business on the belief that great ideas ignite business results across all media."

Steve Laughlin will continue to run the Chicago and Milwaukee offices of the merged entities, while Michael Jeary will become president of Laughlin Constable/New York. Steve Laughlin and Michael Jeary first met though the American Association of Advertising Agencies, serving on the "Emerald Forum" together for 10 years. Over that time, L/C acquired a Chicago office, and the success of that office led the agency to consider a New York outpost as well.

Lisa Photo 8.23.07.jpgWednesday evening, Sept. 16th, the Chicago Advertising Federation will host a discussion with the intriguing title "What Would David Ogilvy Do? Questions and Answers with Two Who Knew Him." The "two," in this case, are Allstate marketing honcho Lisa Cochrane and author and former ad man Ken Roman, who wrote the recently-released book "The King Of Madison Avenue," about David Ogilvy. The event will be held at the Mid-America Club, 200 E. Randolph St. in Chicago. A reception begins at 5 p.m., and the presentation starts at 6 p.m. The cost for CAF members if $50. For non-members the fee is $55. For further info or to make a reservation call 847-375-4728.

The consumer division of Symantec Corp. has selected Leo Burnett USA as its global and North American agency of record. The appointment expands on the retail marketing work that Arc Worldwide, Burnett's marketing services arm, has done for the past eight years with Symantec's consumer marketing team.

Now Burnett and Arc will work to solidify Symantec's Norton brand and position it as the market leader in online security by educating consumers about the issue of safety and security online. "Leo Burnett and Arc are focusing on what we do best by helping Norton find their true brand purpose and relevance in people's lives and designing creative that will expose and connect them around an issue that has gone dark -- their safety and security online," said Mark Renshaw, executive vice president, Burnett and Arc Worldwide.

Toward that end, Burnett helped Norton create a "Cyber Crime Black Market" event in New York City on Sept. 9. The event exposed the cyber crime black market that trades and profits on stealing and selling personal identities and credit cards online.

Shea&Jennifer.jpgFor those who haven't been keeping track of the protracted contest to find a new announcer/spokesperson for ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7's "Chicago Huddle" Sunday morning football show, we have the results for you. "Huddle" host Ryan Chiaverini and his producers have selected not one, but both of the finalists --Shae Peppler and Jennifer Wicks. The women found out they were both winners at the end of the taping of the first "Huddle" program late last week. They will now appear on the show on alternating weeks, with Wicks making her solo debut next Sunday.

Rick Vaughn.jpgDerrick Brown and Rick Vaughn have been named social media directors at Clear Channel Radio Chicago effective immediately. Brown will oversee social networking for WVAZ-FM (102.7), WLIT-FM (93.9) and WGRB-AM (1390), in addition to his duties as WVAZ's program director. Vaughn will head up social networking for WKSC-FM (103.5), WGCI-FM (107.5) and Mega 95.5, while continuing to serve as program director of WKSC.

As directors of social media, Brown and Vaughn will be responsible for using new media and social networking to extend station brands across online communities, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter among others. Brown is the former assistant program director and mid-day host at WLIT. Vaughn previously was program director of Clear Channel's WIOQ-FM (102.1) in Philadelphia.

The television documentary "102 Minutes That Changed America," produced by Chicago-based Siskel/Jacobs Productions, has won in three of the four Primetime Emmy Awards categories in which it was nominated, including Outstanding Nonfiction Special. The film, which reconstructs in real time the events of Sept. 11, also won for outstanding sound editing and outstanding sound mixing. The two-hour special premiered without commercial interruption on the History Channel on Sept. 11, 2008. More than five million viewers tuned in, making it the second most-watched telecast ever on the cable channel.

Siskel/Jacobs Productions was founded in 2005 by Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs. S/J Productions is currently in post-production on its first feature-length documentary, "Louder Than a Bomb," which follows four Chicago-area high school poetry teams -- Steinmetz, Whitney Young, Northside and Oak Park/River Forest -- as they prepare for and compete in the world's largest youth slam.

Phyllis Schwartz, who worked for many years in television news in Chicago at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5, ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2, has just been named CEO of The Jumpitz, a children's entertainment group. The Jumpitz, founded in 2007, was created to provide both children and their parents with educational and entertaining interactive content across an array of platforms, including television, DVD, live concerts and mobile. "I am thrilled by the opportunity to provide high-end 'edutainment' offerings to children everywhere," said Schwartz. "In the last year we've developed a strong production team, and Phyllis was a natural fit to complete our roster," said Laurie Jabbar, chief creative officer with the Jumpitz.

Euro RSCG/Chicago has just unveiled a new Web site for Chicago's oldest boys and girls club -- the Off the Street Club. The site, www.offthestreetclub.org, invites visitors, via a click of their computer cursors, to literally take a kid off the street by dragging animated children off the street and into the Club for a $10 donation. Whenever someone contributes $10, a real-time video plays with footage of actual children at the club holding up "thank you" signs.

Euro RSCG is sponsoring the annual Off the Street Club fundraising luncheon this December. The new Web site is part of the agency's ongoing campaign on behalf of the Off the Street Club -- a campaign with the theme line "Off the Street and On To So Much More."

The organizers of the Chicago Creative Club Awards show promised us a "No Show." Well, the "No Show" they were striving for finally became, alas, very much a chaotic and somewhat out-of-control affair.

On the plus side, the awards presentation and the Of Montreal concert that followed attracted a large crowd of more than 1,200 Chicago advertising industry people. And we were heartened to see many agency creative leaders in attendance. But, sadly, as has proven the case in several past award shows, it appeared the vast majority of the assembled throng were there just to party. And the notion of respectfully honoring their peers for their outstanding work seemed to be the furthest thing from their collective minds Thursday night at the Riviera Theater in Uptown. Some we talked to were surprised by the blatant lack of respect for the awards and the award winners, but not us. We'd seen it in years past and had railed about it -- mostly to no avail.

The choice of the Riviera as the show venue, unfortunately, didn't help curb this tendency by many to ignore the awards ceremony and party instead. The toasty temperature inside the theater and the absence of any seating on the main floor basically created a mosh pit environment that encouraged everyone to party ever harder. That said, maybe the large turnout did help re-establish a bit of that old feeling of a real advertising community in Chicago. Whether it will last, of course, depends on how the ad business fares in this city over the next several months.

The "No Show" organizers -- Matt Brennock, Liz Ross and Katie Juras -- certainly worked hard to make the evening fun, without entirely losing sight of the fact this was intended to be a celebration of the best advertising work done in Chicago. The trio couldn't dictate how everyone was expected to behave. And they shouldn't have. Those working in the ad business in Chicago are going to have to learn for themselves that respect must be paid. Especially when we are gathered to hand out awards.
There was talk Thursday night about possibly taking the Chicago Creative Club Awards show private and turning it it in real business. Might not be such a bad idea. We'll report more on that possibility as information becomes available.

Meanwhile, we would be remiss if we didn't offer up a big thank you to all those involved in the shooting of the short video "Lewis Lazare: Ad Man" in which we played a role. It was shown at the end of the awards portion of the evening. Over the course of two days of location filming, we had a lot of fun doing it. But it was really the people and companies behind the scenes who deserve the lion's share of the credit for getting it produced in such a wonderfully professional fashion:

Executive in charge, Katie Juras
Writer, Matt Brennock
Director, Steve Juras
Production company, Optimus One
Content producer, Matt Abramson
DP, Joe Tipre
Audio, Matt Bregger
PAs, Amanda Speva, Abby Hamilton and Max Holste.
Editorial, Optimus One
Producer, Tracy Spera
Editor, Ruben Vela
Assistant editor, Jill Dibiase

Thanks to everyone. And now, on to next year.

Chicago public radio station WBEZ-FM (91.5) is adding two new programs to its lineup, effective Sept. 21: "Here & Now," a national daily news and arts magazine; and "Marketplace Monday," a weekly extension of "Marketplace," which focuses on personal finance issues. Additionally, WBEZ plans to move "Marketplace Morning Report," a daily 10-minute business news brief, to 8:50 a.m. weekdays to bolster the station's business and economic coverage. "Here & Now," hosted by Robin Young, will air weekdays at 1 p.m. "Marketplace Money" will air on Sundays at 2 p.m. "As is the case with our other programming, both shows bring depth and context to daily events, but do so with a style that's credible, conversational and creative," said Steve Edwards, WBEZ acting program director.

Amazingly, Tom Negovan, a reporter and back-up anchor at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9, is expected to recover fully from serious injuries suffered when the motorcycle he was riding collided head-on with a motorist on Harlem Avenue on Saturday. Negovan underwent two hours of spinal surgery to repair broken vertebrae Tuesday. The WGN reporter also suffered multiple lacerations.

Negovan had many years of experience riding a motorcycle and normally wears a helmet when he is on his bike. But when the accident occurred, Negovan reportedly wasn't wearing his protective helmet. Negovan could be back on the job at WGN within several weeks. His wife, Susanna, formerly wrote a nightlife column for the Sun-Times, and she is now editor of Michigan Avenue magazine, which focuses on fashion, society and other topics.

Former news anchor Bill Kurtis is back at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 in at least a couple of capacities -- but not as a news anchor. The station said Wednesday it has picked up syndicated episodes of Kurtis' "Cold Case Files" series that originally aired on the A & E cable channel. The syndicated episodes will air Monday through Friday at 1 a.m. on WBBM, beginning Sept. 21.

Kurtis also will begin contributing a series of syndicated reports called "The Cold Case Minutes," which will debut on Sept. 22, on WBBM's flagship 10 p.m. newscast. The brief segments will be a regular feature on WBBM's late newscast. Kurtis' newscast segments reportedly will provide up-to-date information about unsolved local and national homicides and reach out to viewers for help in solving these crimes. Kurtis also will tell current stories about the work of local and national detectives who are crime detection experts.

"After more than 40 years in broadcasting, it's a wonderful feeling to come back home to WBBM-TV and bring the 'Cold Case' franchise with me," said Kurtis. "We are thrilled to have Bill contribute to our newscast much in the same way he did years ago," added WBBM News Director Jeff Kiernan.

Call it dicey scheduling. But the Executives' Club of Chicago apparently believes it will have something to celebrate on Oct. 6, because it has invited Pat Ryan, chairman and CEO of the Chicago 2016 Olympic organizing committee, to be guest speaker at a Joint Committee breakfast on that day.

Ryan's topic, per the invitation, will be "Chicago's Bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games." Ryan's speech at the Sheraton Chicago will come just four days after the International Olympic Committee selects the 2016 Summer Olympics host city in Copenhagen on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Depending on how that vote goes, of course, Ryan could be talking to the Executives' Club about what went wrong. Or he could be discussing a successful bid strategy. Either way, it should prove an interesting breakfast presentation.

The first-ever WSCR-AM (670) Radiothon to benefit National Prostate Awareness Month will take place on Thursday, Sept. 10, at the Central DuPage Hospital Convenient Care facility in Glen Ellyn, IL. The 19-hour live broadcast will begin at 5 am with the "Mully and Hanley Morning Show" and will conclude at midnight the same day. Listeners will be invited to call in to WSCR's donation number at 630-384-6300 or make secure online donations at www.670thescore.com. Listeners also will be invited to join the Score a the CDH Convenient Care Center to make their donation in person.

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most frequently-diagnosed cancer in men other than skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in men. All proceeds from the Radiothon will go to the American Cancer Society for the fight against prostate cancer.

5-Show Visual_11x16.jpgThe folks behind the entertainment behemoth Cirque du Soleil have made an unimaginably large amount of money over many years by delivering sophisticated circus shows to audiences around the world. Always a little arty. And just eclectic enough to make its productions seem more than a mere circus in New Age clothing, Cirque long ago successfully separated itself from the rest of the pack, including Ringling Bros., and made a mint in the process.

But now Cirque appears to be unabashedly lowering its sights to embrace everyone -- and anyone -- who maybe thought Cirque was too high-falutin' for them. In Chicago Wednesday to announce the name of -- and launch the marketing blitz for -- Cirque's new vaudeville stage show that will have its world premiere at the Chicago Theatre starting Nov. 19, Cirque Creation Director Serge Roy insisted that "Banana Shpeel," as it's been dubbed, will be nothing more nor less than PURE entertainment. And lest he leave any doubt in anyone's mind, Roy repeated that message several times with increasing emphasis. Clowns, it appears, will be at the heart of the new 90-minute "Banana Shpeel," though there will be plenty of dance too. But no story line. The bits and pieces of the show can apparently run in any order, which should give one a sense of how it's being put together.

In many ways this new Cirque entertainment is indicative of where we're at when it comes to mounting and marketing live theater -- or entertainment -- circa late 2009. Look for plenty of new theater productions to come down hard on the entertainment factor in the months ahead. And then the producers will have to hope that whatever they're selling is indeed entertaining enough to get consumers to part with their money.

olympics[1].jpgWith Chicago aldermen set to vote Wednesday on whether Mayor Richard M. Daley can sign a standard host-city agreement with the International Olympic Committee, the Chicago 2016 organizing committee is engaged in a last-minute, last-ditch effort to pump up enthusiasm for the Chicago bid among local government officials and the populace via a print and radio ad campaign. If Daley signs the host city contract, Chicago would be obligated to cover the costs of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics, as well as any operating losses.

Two different, copy-heavy full page ads appeared in both Chicago dailies Tuesday, while radio spots featuring the mayors of Atlanta and Los Angeles, also were running to boost support for the city's Olympic bid. One of the print ads was an open letter from Martin Luther King III in which he explains why hosting the Olympics would be good for Chicago. King was involved with the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

A second print ad offered more factual details about how the Olympics would benefit Chicago and Illinois, including $22 billion in economic impact and a number of new sports facilities that would remain after the Games.

A Chicago 2016 spokesman said the print ads, developed in-house, would appear only once, though the radio spots would continue to run.

The push to rally public backing for Chicago's Olympic bid comes amid growing evidence that Chicagoans' support has waned in recent months, and that Rio de Janeiro's bid could be gaining favor with International Olympic Committee, who will select the 2016 host city on Oct. 2, in Copenhagen. In addition to Rio, Chicago is competing with Madrid and Tokyo for the 2016 Games.

The very pleasant Steve Peckham, who for the past several months has served as Leo Burnett/Chicago's interim public relations representative/consultant, is obviously striving for some clever headlines on his press releases, which have become more frequent in the past few days as some relatively positive news has actually begun to emanate from the beleaguered shop.

Most notably that news includes the selection of Susan Credle as Burnett's new chief creative officer. That announcement was trumpeted in a press release with the headline "Susan Credle Leaves Big Apple for Big Apple Agency" -- a reference to New York's nickname and also to Burnett's historical ties to apples. It's fine to demonstrate some cleverness when making such announcements, but let's not mistake that for the big idea creativity that will be needed to get Burnett's creative department back on track -- something we hope Credle will get to work on as soon as she lands in her new Burnett office.

There was yet another touch of, uh, cleverness in the announcement last Friday that Burnett has won an assignment to help AOL communicate its "reinvention" as it legally separates itself from Time Warner Inc. This time the headline read "Leo Burnett: You've Got AOL," which just served to remind some of us how far AOL -- with its iconic "you've got mail" welcome -- has fallen from an Internet leader to a has-been in the eyes of many who were there when services such as AOL were just beginning.

This of course, is just an assignment from AOL with marginal remuneration for Burnett. It's something the agency probably wouldn't have bothered with if business were better.

But times being what they are, Burnett is going to help AOL reinvent itself -- much as we hope Credle will be successful in helping her new agency home reinvent -- or rediscover -- what once made it one of America's legendary shops.

Fast-casual restaurant chain Cosi has selected ESW Partners/Chicago as its new agency of record, following an extensive agency search. Cosi operates 145 outlets throughout the United States and reportedly plans to expand over the next two years. ESW was hired to handle branding and all marketing and communications efforts for the restaurant chain. Separately, e-SW2, the interactive arm of ESW Partners, will handle all Web-related activities, including the redesign of Cosi's Web site. "Cosi has a great story to tell," said Jim Signorelli, founder and CEO of ESW Partners. Cosi CEO Jim Hyatt said the company chose ESW because of "their knowledge of the restaurant business and especially their analytical approach taken to competitively position the Cosi brand.

With approximately $60 million in combined billings, ESW will celebrate its 10th year in business this October.

The "No Show" countdown continues

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ofMontreal.jpgOne week and counting until what promises to be a dramatically different Chicago Creative Club awards presentation at the Riviera Theater on Sept. 10. As everyone in the local ad industy must know by now, this take on an awards event has been dubbed by its organizers the "No Show," the full meaning of which will no doubt become evident as the evening unfolds.

The show organizers -- Matt Brennock, Liz Ross and Katie Juras -- say some 1,000 tickets, priced at $50 apiece, have been sold so far. And that number is expected to grow, of course, in the final days leading to the event. Yes, there will be a concert by indie pop band Of Montreal after the one-hour awards presentation, as well as some other surprises along the way. "Surprises," in fact, may prove to be the operative word for the evening.

Brennock told us there will be a master of ceremonies, but he won't say who that will be. Just one more surprise, we suppose.

joffrey.jpgDance can be tricky when it comes to marketing. Afficionados may be fairly familiar with a large swath of the dance repertoire. But how do you generate curiosity among the uninitiated when you have only a giant billboard with which to do it? That was the intriguing challenge facing the marketing department of Chicago's Joffrey Ballet, which is trying to whip up interest in the Chicago premiere of the ballet "Othello" from Oct. 14 to 25 at the Auditorium Theatre. Since the ballet has never before been presented in Chicago, even afficionados may not be fully informed about the piece and whatever might make it worth seeing.

In any event, the Joffrey decided to use only a bit of beefcake imagery and a Web address to whet the public's appetite for "Othello" in the new billboard execution near the Kennedy Expressway at Elston. We fear the new billboard may not offer enough information or enough of a hard sell to have much impact at the box office. A hint at what might have helped the billboard work better is evident at the Joffrey Web site, where the same dancer with rippling chest musculature is visible. But above the ballet's title, the words "witness the passion" magically materialize on the Joffrey home page on the Web. Now passion is something people can savor in a dance performance. A mention of that passion would have been a resonant addition to the billboard too.

Susan Credle_Current.jpgThe search for a new chief creative officer at Leo Burnett is over. Susan Credle, 45, is Burnett's new creative leader, effective Oct. 5. "This is a decision rooted in the best driver for our business -- the creative product," said Tom Bernardin, Burnett Worldwide chairman and CEO.

Credle is coming from BBDO/New York, where she is an executive creative director and a hugely-admired member of one of the few outstanding creative departments left in the American advertising industry. Sources say Credle has been at BBDO for nearly a quarter century. She started out as a receptionist, and because her energy and interest in the ad business caught the attention of BBDO executives, she was made a junior copywriter. Credle then worked her way up the ladder.

At BBDO, Credle has worked on some of the agency's most high-profile accounts, including AT&T and M&M's. She will become Burnett's second female creative leader in recent memory, following in the footsteps of Cheryl Berman, who worked her way up through the Burnett hierarchy to eventually lead the agency's creative department. Credle will face a big challenge at Burnett, which has struggled mightily in recent years to attract new business and demonstrate a sharp, winning creative profile. But sources who know Credle say she is ready for what awaits her.

Brett Favre's Sears TV spot debuts

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BrettFavreJPEGPics__67466[1].jpgA month ago we wrote about Brett Favre's secret trip to Chicago to film a new commercial for beleaguered retailing behemoth Sears. The indecisive (and boy has he ever proved the truth of that descriptive) Favre was called into action to tout the debut of Sears blue electronics crew, a new team of blue-shirted sales clerks being introduced to help work with customers looking to make a purchase in the electronics department. At the time of our previous writing, we wondered if Favre would prove to be a great addition to the commercial, especially in terms of helping up the spot's humor factor.

Well, the commercial from Young & Rubicam/Chicago is finished now, and we have seen it. And we can say with complete certainty one thing about it -- it's not gut-bustingly funny. Not at all. The commercial's director obviously decided to keep Favre on a very tight leash. The new Minnesota Vikings quarterback mostly stares at something off-camera and issues very brief responses to his comic foil -- the blue-shirted clerk who plays his part very down the middle. Yes, we do get the message that Farve can be indecisive, but it isn't delivered with any comedic flair. We just get a grim-faced Favre going through his carefully-scripted paces. Perhaps if the quarterback had been given a bit more leeway to improvise, the results would have been far funnier.

Darcie Scianna joins Sponge/Chicago

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Darcie_Scianna.JPGDarcie Scianna has joined Sponge/Chicago as an account director. She will be responsible for leading all account management activities in support of the agency's AutoZone account. Sponge has been AutoZone's agency of record since the summer of 2008. Scianna also will support the agency's on-going business development efforts. Previously, Scianna was an account supervisor at the Chicago Creative Partner. She has also worked at Young & Rubicam/Chicago, JWT/Chicago, DDB/Chicago and Matrix Marketing Group/Chicago. "Darcie bring the depth of retail experience and level-headed thinking needed for our clients' fast-changing environment," said Paul Brourman, president and chief creative officer at Sponge.

_Y0V2794__scaled_640.JPGTimes are tough in Detroit, Mich., but before his sudden death from a heart attack several months ago, George Katsareles, an executive creative director in Leo Burnett's Detroit outpost, was doing his part to make things better by developing an ad campaign titled "I'm In" to help stop the steady decline in enrollment in Motor City's public schools. To honor Katsareles' memory, the final component of that campaign recently was realized in Detroit's Hart Plaza, where 172 blue doors have been placed -- one for each of the city's public schools. Jeff Cruz, another Burnett creative, helped see Katsareles' campaign through to its finish. In addition to the placement of the doors in the plaza, Katsareles' pro bono campaign included radio spots, a jingle and bus wraps.

Effective today, Boston-headquartered Allied Advertising/Public Relations is changing its name Allied Integrated Marketing. The company employs 16 people in Chicago who handle a range of entertainment-related marketing initiatives for movies, TV shows and live theater, among other things. Chicago-based Allied executive Morgan Harris said the new name is intended to better reflect the broad range of marketing activities the company is involved in, which have expanded in recent times to include digital and social networking activities and experiential marketing. Altogether, Allied has 27 offices in the United States and Canada, and it is the largest privately-held company of its kind in North America.

SusanTreacy.jpgSusan Treacy has joined Leo Burnett/Chicago as a senior vice president and creative director. A main focus in her new post will be the agency's Hallmark business. Most recently, Treacy was executive creative director at the 22squared agency in Atlanta, where she oversaw work for Caribou Coffee, Southeast Toyota and Florida's Natural Orange Juice. Previous to 22squared, Treacy worked at Fallon and TBWA/Chiat/Day, creating traditional and interactive work for a range of brands, including Nordstrom, BMW, KitchenAid, Adidas and Fox Sports.

Burnett's Global Chief Creative Officer Mark Tutssel said "Susan's experience is precisely the kind we're seeking . . .I'm proud to have her aboard." Treacy has been recognized for her work in numerous advertising creative competitions, including the Cannes Lions, The One Show, New York Art Director's Club and the Clios.

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About the blogger

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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This page is an archive of entries from September 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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