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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

December 2009 Archives

WLFM-FM partners with NBCChicago.com

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Smooth jazz WLFM-FM (87.7), which has begun ramping up its profile in the Chicago radio marketplace, has announced a partnership with www.NBCChicago.com to provide local news and political news and candidate information online at the radio station's Web site, www.877chicagosmoothjazz.com. WLFM General Manager Pat Kelley said of the new arrangement: "More than ever, we feel as though the well-educated, diverse adult listeners of 87.7 FM will be very involved in the political process this year. I'm excited to team up with the resources at NBCChicago.com to provide up-to-date information during this important political time."

WLFM recently hired veteran smooth jazz host Rick O'Dell as its first program director and mid-day radio host. O'Dell hopes to begin his new radio show next month after the station completes its new studios.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will air a Blackhawks TV 30-minute-show on Friday, Dec. 25, at 7 p.m. and again at 10:30 p.m. The program will include a variety of segments highlighting Blackhawks players' personalities off the ice. The show also will include unseen footage from the NHL Winter Classic 2009, and a behind-the-scenes look at Blackhawks Ambassadors Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Tony Esposito and Denis Savard before and after their skate at the season opener on Oct. 10. Located on chicagoblackhawks.com, Blackhawks TV received the most video views in the NHL during November, 2009, garnering over 880,000.

Veteran Chicago public relations executive Louise Edwards has exited the Korshak and Associates public relations firm to start her own shop -- Louise Edwards Public Relations. Edwards said she will officially open her new firm's doors on Jan. 15, after she and her husband take a vacation in Dubai. Louise Edwards Public Relations will be housed in loft office space at 210 N. Racine in the west loop, not far from Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Studios.

Edwards was a lead honcho in Korshak's corporate division, which has been winding down in recent years. Korshak agency founder and legendary publicist Margie Korshak and her staff will continue to focus on the Broadway in Chicago account, which includes most of the major productions playing in loop theaters. "Theater is Margie's passion," said Edwards, who came to the Korshak firm nearly 30 years ago after a stint with the Edelman public relations firm.

Edwards said she hopes to bring in clients ranging from sporting events to real estate and animal-related services. She already has several accounts, including the Chicago Triathlon.

Mel T.jpgClear Channel Radio Chicago's top 40 WKSC-FM (103.5) has inked new mult-year deals with Mel T and Angi Taylor, co-hosts of the "Drex in the Morning" show. No surprise that Clear Channel would want to keep this popular radio team together. The show was ranked third in Arbitron's November ratings book among persons 18 to 34, its target demo.

Nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Glenn Beck will be heard in Chicago on news/talk WIND-AM (560) beginning Jan. 4, 2010. The Beck show will air from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. With the addition of Beck to the WIND line-up, Dennis Miller will move to the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. timeslot. "It's a great opportunity for us to strategically position Dennis Miller in a day part that makes us more competitive in the market while adding to and maintaining our stellar roster of talk show hosts," said WIND general manager Dave Santrella. Owned and operated by Salem Communications Corp., WIND targets audiences interested in Christian and family-themed content and conservative values.

PX00160_7.JPGNews/talk WLS-AM (890) General Manager Mike Fowler confirmed Friday that he has tentatively worked out a new two-year contract with WLS afternoon drive host Roe Conn, whose Arbitron ratings have slumped badly in recent months. A source close to developments said Conn, who had been one of the last couple of so-called "million-dollar mouths" still working in Chicago radio, would be making around $250,000 a year under terms of his new contract. Fowler said that figure wasn't "even close," but declined to say what he has offered Conn.

Fowler also said he has an offer out to news/talk WIND-AM (560) morning co-host Cisco Cotto to come on board as Conn's co-host. "Cisco is a conservative, and we're a conservative radio station," said Fowler. Cotto previously worked as a news reader at WLS-AM. Before Cotto can join Conn, however, Fowler must wait to see if WIND will match WLS's offer. Fowler said he currently has no plans to change the rest of the talent line-up around Conn, including Amy Jacobson, who does traffic and weather and some reporting, and news anchor Jim Johnson.

The decision to renew Conn's contract represents a big gamble for WLS and Fowler. In the most recent November, 2009, Arbitron book, Conn's afternoon drive show ranked a lowly 26th among adults 25 to 54, a miserable showing for a talent that Fowler insists is a major star in Chicago radio. But Fowler believes Conn is about to rebound. "We've seen some upward movement in the ratings in recent weeks," said Fowler, adding "I think that Roe is starting to have fun again on the show."

Mark and Janet NEW.jpgMark Giangreco and Janet Davies are set to co-host ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7's "Countdown Chicago," the No. 1-rated local station's annual TV special to ring in the new year. Joining Giangreco and Davies will be Hosea Sanders and "190 North's" Michelle Alegria and Mark Nilsson. The hour-long special, starting at 11:08 p.m. on Dec. 31, will transport viewers live to some of the city's snazziest New Year's parties, and Chicago's traditional fireworks celebration. Davies and Giangreco will anchor the show from Buddy Guy's Legends showroom. "Countdown Chicago" also will shine a spotlight on blues legend Buddy Guy himself, while reflecting on the history of the blues performer's famous bar. Mark Nilsson will be based at popular concert venue Metro, where alternative rock band "The Jesus Lizard" will pay.

Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 has raided the city's top-ranked news operation for its new manager of video content. After a seven-year run at No. 1-rated ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7, Jonathan Plater has jumped to Channel 32 to supervise the integration of the latest news gathering technologies in the station's news department. He starts his new job on Dec. 30, 2009. Plater most recently was media manager and editor at WLS. He also has experience as a news photographer, both at Channel 7 and CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2. Also, Chris Willadsen has been promoted to ENG supervisor and chief photographer supervising the photography unit at WFLD. Willadsen has been with the station 22 years.

Talk about strange and unprofessional ways to announce a new show. Rather than an official press release actually confirming the launch of "The Nate Berkus Show," Chicago-based Harpo Productions opted to let some brief comments to the New York Times from newly-anointed Harpo co-president Erik Logan serve as that announcement. Berkus is an interior decorator seen frequently on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."

The New York Times piece about the proposed show, meanwhile, was couched in all sorts of "ifs" and "possibles," which hardly made it seem certain the Berkus show would ever actually happen. A Harpo spokesperson said the production company did not plan on issuing an official announcement about the Berkus show.

Right now, it's all about testing the waters to see if television stations are even interested in a show headlining Berkus, which could start as early as next September. Like most of the stars attached to other syndicated TV shows that Harpo has had a hand in launching, Berkus's "star" power (Logan's descriptive, not ours) is pretty much due to Oprah Winfrey's incessant fawning over the interior decorator and her devotion to introducing him to her adoring fans. Such an approach certainly worked for Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz. We'll see if it does, as well, for Berkus.

The resurgent Chicago Blackhawks are oh so on the cutting edge of all things social media. Evidence? Well, for one thing, Mashable, said to be the world's largest blog focused on Web 2.0 and social media news, has just announced that the city's pro hockey team has won an Open Web Award for "best brand use of Twitter." The Open Web Awards are an international online voting competition that seeks to recognize and honor innovators in Web technology and special achievements in social media. The Blackhawks beat out HBO's "True Blood" for the Mashable honor, despite having only half the followers that cable show does. "It's all about interacting with our fans on a very personal level," said Adam Kempinaar, Blackhawks director of new media and publications. Kempinaar and his assistant Brad Boron are constantly in contact with some 20,000 Blackhawks followers on Twitter.

Utopic/Chicago opens for business

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Utopic, a hybrid production/post-production digital company, has opened in downtown Chicago. Utopic was founded by Jan Maitland and Tim Kloehn, formerly of Optimus, along with digital pro Tony Passero and Shannon Kemp, formerly of Tribe Agency. Ad agency vet executive producer Michael Antonucci also is part of the mix at Utopic. The new shop's capabilities include TV commercials, print, Web, interactive, social media and mobile applications. Utopic also offers a full range of audio services, including original music composition, sound design, music supervision and mixing. Utopic's offices are at 420 N.Wabash.

DSC_1432.JPGThe year 2009 has been mostly about whining in the advertising industry. We all the know the basic tale of woe by heart by now. No new business at many agencies. Clients cutting back. Losses piling up. And on and on. But you won't see many long faces around at least one Chicago ad agency, namely Two by Four. No indeed. In fact, Two by Four chief creative officer and founder David Stevenson threw a big bash for his staff last week, and then was kind enough to send us information about all he did for his employees to celebrate Two by Four's successful 2009.

So what does Stevenson know that so many others in the ad biz don't? Apparently he knows how to manage staff and his cost structure to sustain a 20 percent profit margin. Not bad. Even in a very down year.

To celebrate his ad business acumen and his staff, Stevenson presided over a "Let's Make A Deal"-themed bash for employees on Friday, Dec. 11th, at which he gave away no less than $20,000 worth of prizes, including a trip to New York City to see a Broadway show (What? Chicago theater isn't good enough for Stevenson's folks??), a trip for two to Las Vegas (another cultural hotbed!), and two tickets to the Final Four in March. And oh yes! A contribution of $1,000 towards the purchase of a pup of the prize winner's choice. Stevenson said the pup prize was by no means the most popular of the lot. The big showcase prize, we're told, was a solid silver bar. On top of all the prizes won, each staffer also got a bonus check.

Stevenson told us his last round of layoffs happened last February. Since then he has added staff, returning total head count to about where it was prior to the February cuts. For those tired of working for ad agencies that have become little more than glorified -- and sharply downsized -- sweat shops in recent years, Stevenson seemed to suggest to us that his agency aims to be anything but that. "We've handed out bonus checks for every one of the 13 years we've been in business," notes Stevenson.

Chicago-based television commentator and columnist Roland S. Martin will give the commencement address at Chicago State University's graduation ceremony on Dec. 17, in the Emil & Patricia A. Jones Convocation Center. Martin was selected to give the address because of his unwavering belief in the importance of higher education. Commencement Committee student representative Tamikka Jackson said that during difficult economic times, "students need to be uplifted," and she said Martin is capable of doing just that. In addition to regular appearances on CCN, Martin is a commentator for the TV One cable network and a nationally-syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate.

It's official. John Cravens has been name general manager at sports talk WMVP-AM (1000). He replaces James Pastor, who has been promoted to oversee parent ESPN's project to set up more market-specific sports Web sites in various cities around the United States. Cravens had been WMVP's general sales manager.

Whatever his skills as a network television talent, George Stephanopoulos strikes us as the wrong person to be fronting a competitive network morning show. Nonetheless, Stephanopoulos is the talent ABC has tapped to co-host "Good Morning America" with Robin Roberts, starting Monday, Dec. 14. Stephanopoulos replaces Diane Sawyer, who, as everyone knows by now, ascends to the anchor job on ABC's "World News," starting Dec. 21. JuJu Chang also joins "GMA" as news anchor, while Chris Cuomo departs the show to co-host ABC's news magazine "20/20" with Elizabeth Vargas and to serve as the network's chief law and justice correspondent.

In the years Stephanopoulous has hosted "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," the new "GMA" co-host always struck us as an exceedingly stiff talent with a very limited sense of humor. He has always seemed to strain to appear authoritative and informed, though his tense manner suggested to us he was anything but an authority on whatever he was addressing. Certainly, Stephanopoulos will have to morph into something he shows no sign of being right now to become a credible "GMA" co-host with the immensely amiable, easy-going Robin Roberts.

ABC can ill-afford to have chosen the wrong person for the key "GMA" assignment. The network has been trying for a long time to overtake NBC's No. 1-rated "Today Show." If the ratings start to fall with Stephanopoulos on board at "GMA," it could take a long time to repair the damage -- especially if the network were forced to dump Stephanopoulos and start over again. Picking the right talent for a show is, granted, an in-exact science. We just hope ABC sees something in Stephanopoulos that we have missed up to now.

General Mills, parent of numerous well-known and wholesome food brands including Cheerios, topped the 2009 list of best sponsors of television programming compiled by the Parents Television Council.

For the past five years, the PTC has annually released lists of television's "best" and "worst" advertisers. The PTC lists are based on data it collects about which advertisers sponsor family-friendly programming and which tend to support shows with objectionable content, including violence and sexual themes. The lists do not reflect the quality -- or lack thereof -- of the actual ads themselves.

Joining General Mills on the best advertisers list are Clorox, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co., Walmart, Payless Shoes, Colgate Palmolive, J.C. Penney, State Farm Insurance and Kmart.

Yum Brands!, which includes the KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell fast food chains, topped PTC's list of the 10 worst advertisers. Also making the worst advertisers list were General Motors, Sprint Nextel, Unilever, Verizon, Apple Co., Burger King, DirecTV, Chili's restaurants and AT&T.

PTC said advertisers on its "worst" list are more likely to support questionable programming such as "Skins," which the organization said contains "some of the most graphic sexual content and drug use involving teens" seen on television today. The PTC was founded in 1995, as a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment.

On Friday, all news WBBM-AM (780) will conduct its 14th annual Good Neighbor Radiothon to raise money for the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation. Familiar WBBM hosts and reporters, including Felicia Middlebrooks, John Hultman, Bernie Tafoya, Bob Roberts and Dave Marsett, will broadcast live throughout the day from the Federation's warehouse distribution center on the city's west side.

All proceeds raised during the radiothon will remain in Chicago and be used here. The Chicago Anti-Hunger Foundation serves on average 150,000 hungry people each month. In 2008, the Federation decided to accept, purchase and distribute only healthy, nutritional food.

Chicago native John Stossel, a familiar face on ABC for many years, begins a new era in his career Thursday with the launch of "Stossel," on the Fox Business Network cable channel. The weekly, one-hour show will focus on libertarian and economic issues and will include in each edition a panel of experts and economists on set to discuss issues facing American taxpayers, including global warming, health care, social security and free trade. The show will air live in front of a studio audience who will be encouraged to take part in the discussions.

Stossel joined Fox Business in October, after having co-hosted ABC's prime-time newsmagazine "20/20" since 2003. While at "20/20," Stossel contributed a number of special reports on various consumer topics, ranging from pop culture to government.

It's become a familiar -- and somewhat disturbing -- occurrence in recent years at the Chicago-based travel Web site Orbitz.com. The company said Wednesday it has brought on board yet another new vice-president of brand marketing Deborah Italiano, who most recently was handling marketing for another travel Web operation, Travelocity.com.

An Orbitz spokesman also said the company is now conducting a closed agency review. Only last year, Orbitz brought on board Trailer Park/Los Angeles to work on both creative concepts and advertising production, though Trailer Park over the past year primarily was a production source for Orbitz. The ad campaign Orbitz is currently running was produced by Mullen/Boston, another agency the company has worked with in recent years, along with Young & Rubicam/Chicago. Orbitz apparently has asked Trailer Park and Mullen to re-pitch the business. Orbitz would not disclose the names of other shops it has asked to participate.

Meanwhile, Italiano is the third executive in the last five years that has signed on to handle Orbitz's marketing responsibilities. Orbitz no longer has an executive with the chief marketing officer title, but now uses the vice-president of brand marketing title instead.

The entire travel industry has been hard hit by the sharp economic downturn the past couple of years, which may explain in part the reason for Orbitz's rapid turnover in marketing executives and ad agencies working for the company. But Orbitz and the various agencies it has worked with also have struggled to come up with ad campaigns capable of galvanizing the public's attention and compelling customers to turn to Orbitz instead of several other aggressive competitors.

Matthew A. Saleski has been named vice-president of marketing for Sun-Times Media, effective Jan. 4, 2010. Saleski most recently was strategic account director for Yahoo! Inc., where he was responsible for major corporate clients, including Kraft Foods, Mars/Wrigley and PepsiCo. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Saleski worked for Getty images as a group sales director. Saleski also worked for the Tribune Co. from 2000 to 2005 in various advertising and marketing capacities. Saleski replaces Willie Wilkov, who recently left Sun-Times Media for another career opportunity.

Rick O'Dell hopes to be back on the air in January, doing something he loved doing for many years -- hosting a smooth jazz radio show. O'Dell, the former WNUA-FM (95.5) host, said Tuesday he has hitched his star to a little-known radio outlet WLFM-FM (87.7). His last day as an Internet radio host and programmer with Chicago-based AccuRadio will be Friday.

WLFM has been on air as a very barebones smooth jazz outlet since last May, when WNUA dumped the smooth jazz format and switched to hot Spanish hits. O'Dell will host a mid-day show on WLFM, but first he must wait for the station's studios to be built out. The exact start date and the hours of O'Dell's mid-day show on WLFM have yet to be determined. O'Dell is the only on-air talent the station has hired so far. O'Dell will also serve as WLFM's program director, which will require him to create from scratch a library of music. "I have most of what I will need to do that in my music library at home," said O'Dell.

For some two years, WLFM has been co-owned by Cleveland-based Malibu Broadcasting and Los Angeles-based Venture Technologies Group. But the radio station only went live with music last spring, first with an alternative country music format and then smooth jazz. Only recently, said O'Dell, has the station begun to generate enough cash to hire on-air staff and a program director. WLFM's General Manager is Pat Kelley, who previously was the general sales manager at WNUA. Both Kelley and O'Dell were let go from WNUA as the station prepared to transition to the new Spanish hits format last May.

Though smooth jazz fans have turned to WLFM in the wake of WNUA's demise, some have complained WLFM is hard to tune in to because of its awkward position at the very low end of the radio dial.

DraftFCB/Chicago has added Ken Muench as senior vice-president of multi-cultural planning. In partnership with Simon El Hage, senior vice-president, and group management director of the agency's multi-cultural practice, and Eduardo Dehese-Conde, senior vice-president and group creative director, Muench will lead multi-cultural efforts from a planning standpoint.

Muench brings with him to DraftFCB over 13 years of working at Hispanic-based agencies including Casanova Pendrill and, most recently, Grupo Gallegos. As director of planning and research at Grupo, Muench was responsible for managing the planning function and was integral in deciding the agency's future business opportunities and strategic direction.

Big games often generate big ratings when they are televised. Last Saturday's WGN-Channel 9 hockey game telecast featuring the resurgent Chicago Blackhawks and the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins was no exception. It brought the highest ratings for a regularly-scheduled televised Blackhawks game in more than two decades, with a 3.2 rating. The Blackhawks-Penguins game rating peaked at 5.7.

So far this season, the Blackhawks game telecasts are averaging a 1.7 rating in the key 25 to 54 demo, up 89 percent versus a year ago. By the way, the Blackhawks won Saturday's game in overtime 2-1.

Davion Fountain 3.jpgA star was definitely born at last Thursday's 109th annual Off-the-Street Club luncheon, an annual effort by Chicago's advertising and public relations community to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit the eminently worthy Off the Street Club, the West Garfield Park entity that gives scores of children in one of the city's most crime-infested neighborhoods a safe haven to play and learn. The star, in this instance, is 10-year-old Davion Fountain, who at the luncheon was named the Off the Street Club's Boy of the Year. Davion then marched up to the podium to be recognized, and with more poise, polish and charm than we've see from many people three or four or more times his age, he addressed the crowd of nearly 700 to thank them for the honor and express what it meant to him.

Davion concluded his remarks by noting he hoped to grow up one day to become a member of the Off the Street Club's board of directors. Yes, this boy has his goals quite in order.Then, Davion called on to the stage two of his Off the Street Club friends to do a dance (replete with moonwalking) to Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Without risk of overstatement, we can safely say Davion brought down the house.

Meanwhile, the luncheon host, agency Euro RSCG/Chicago, is to be commended for the smooth fashion in which the event unfolded. During perhaps the most difficult year in memory for the local ad industry, Euro RSCG got nearly 100 more people to show up for this year's luncheon than for last year's. The luncheon is expected to have helped raise in excess of $400,00

Noted Chicago radio executive John Gehron has joined Webcaster AccuRadio.com as it lead management consultant, according to AccuRadio founder and CEO Kurt Hanson. Gehron and Hanson started working together in the mid-1970's, when Gehron was program director at legendary WLS-AM (890). Hanson then was a student at the University of Chicago and did a two-year internship at WLS.

"I believe there's a big opportunity in the market for a brand like AccuRadio that's aimed at a more mainstream, mass-appeal listener base," said Gehron. Hanson said that in addition to marketing the core AccuRadio brand, Gehron will help advance the company's plans to market spin-off brands aimed at specific audience subgroups, including mainstream jazz fans, classical music fans and Hispanics.

AccuRadio currently offers over 480 channels of rock, pop, jazz, country, classical and more genres of music. The company's focus is on musical styles that appeal to the 25 to 54-year-old age group.

It was to have been a first -- the first time teams from the National Football League and the National Hockey League had come together in a joint marketing effort. But the NFL has refused to green-light a joint marketing venture between the Chicago Bears and Chicago Blackhawks that was originally scheduled to debut in late October.

A Bears spokesman conceded Friday that the planned ad campaign featuring star players from the Bears and Blackhawks bantering amongst themselves in each of several15-second commercials has been canceled, even though the TV spots were finished and ready to air as long ago as mid-October. At the time the TV ad campaign was conceived of and shot, Bears management apparently believed the joint ad campaign fell within the parameters of marketing efforts the NFL will allow. But Bears management subsequently discovered otherwise.


Several months ago, the resurgent Blackhawks had eagerly pushed for the joint ad campaign because the team hoped some of Chicago sports fans' love for the Bears would brush off on the hockey team and enhance their rapidly-growing popularity even more. Now that the Bears have surprised many of the team's amazingly loyal fans by performing so poorly this season, Blackhawks management may be more relieved than disappointed that the historic ad campaign is kaput. "We have a strong bond with the Bears, and look forward to exploring other opportunities to work with the team," said a
Blackhawks spokesman.

Troi Tyler back at WVAZ-FM

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Troi Tyler.jpgClear Channel Radio Chicago said Thursday that Troi Tyler is returning to WVAZ as host of the "Quiet Storm" on Sundays from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. She will also serve as fill-in host for other dayparts. Tyler's tenure with Clear Channel Radio Chicago dates back more than 15 years ago, when she was host of "Whispers in the Dark" on sister station WGCI-FM (107.5), before moving to WVAZ to host middays earlier this year.

Hopson.jpgAndy Hopson has been named president of Noble/Chicago. He will report to agency founder, chairman ad CEO Bob Noble, and also serves on the agency's board of directors and its executive committee.

Most recently, Hopson was senior advisor and strategist for Real Good Idea, a consultancy for innovative agencies, services and marketing technologies. Other highlights of Hopson's career include serving as president and chief operating officer at Publicis Dialog, which he helped launch in the United States after Publicis acquired EvansGroup, where Hopson was president and chief operating officer.

Hopson had been serving as a consultant to Noble for several months. "As we became better acquainted, we recognized that his wealth of experience and proven leadership abilities, combined with a unique understanding of the changed media environment, will be a huge attribute to Noble as we continue to grow and expand," said Bob Noble.
Noble's Chicago clients include Behr, Country Financial, Grande Cheese and Midwest Airlines.

1_7.jpgOn Thursday at 11:30 a.m., Euro RSCG/Chicago will commandeer one of the capacious Hyatt Regency Chicago ballrooms to host the annual Off the Street Club luncheon. It has become a tradition at these fetes for the host agency to present a video that showcases the work of of Chicago's tireless Off the Street Club, headed by Ralph Campagna, and encourages attendees to give as generously as possible to a most worthy cause. Euro RSCG Executive Creative Director Blake Ebel oversaw the five-minute video that the agency will present this year.

Though it was designed to end on an uplifting note, the video begins with some grim details about the neighborhood in which the Off Street Club seeks to do so much good. Needless to say, the city's Garfield Park area is beset by violence and death on an almost daily basis, but the Off the Street Club goes on, nonetheless, trying to help young people chart a course toward a better future than their surroundings would seem to offer them.

At the end of the Euro RSCG video, we're told, some of the young people who participate in the Off the Street Club respond to that perennial question posed to so many kids: what do you want to be when you grow up? Their answers make it clear these young people have aspirations worth every bit of support the Chicago ad community can muster during these very difficult times for the industry.

ESW Partners/Chicago has reached all the way down under to tap Michael Otten as its new director of business development, always a key slot at any agency.

Formerly, Otten was CEO of Singleton Advertising in Melbourne, Australia. He also has been executive general manager of Crown Casino and consulted for the Skycity group of casinos in New Zealand, Foxwoods in Connecticut, and the Ritz Club in London.

"Further cultivating the casino//hotel category is one of the big rocks we want to move," said Jim Signorelli, ESW's CEO. "We took a long time and went a long way to find Michael, but we were determined to bring in the best person we could find to help us with this objective," added Signorelli. It appears ESW is taking aim at RPM Advertising/Chicago, which has developed an expertise in the casino category. RPM handles advertising for some of the biggest casino operations in the Chicago area and beyond.

At Singleton and other agencies where Otten has worked his clients have included Telestra, Nike, IBM, Honda, AXA, Compaq and Coles supermarkets.

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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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