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

November 2010 Archives

Outspoken sports broadcaster Mike North is relaunching his website that officially launches on Dec. 6. And he's hoping to make it a major destination not only for his fans here in Chicago, but many of the new ones he has picked up since he began doing national weekend broadcasts on Fox Sports Radio. North has reconfigured the site as a potpourri, if you will, of some of his best shtick. There will be new videos added regularly, including segments of the "Bookie Priest" and his "Five Minute News." Recipes also will be available at the site, courtesy of North's wife.

North has lined up several sponsors to underwrite his expanded web presence, including the village of Rosemont, American Mattress and Tony's Deli. And the ever-confident North predicts more will sign on when they see how far-reaching the North brand now is. In fact, when we heard from North this week, he was in Las Vegas, preparing to talk to the folks at the Venetian Hotel about sponsorship opportunities. No word yet on whether he snagged the Vegas property as a sponsor.

Ysaac Alvarez is the new afternoon drive host from 3 to 7 p.m. at Clear Channel Radio Chicago's hot Spanish hits station Mega 95.5 FM (formerly WNUA-FM), effective Dec. 6.

A native of Peru, Alvarez most recently was an on-air personality at Superestrella 107.1 FM in Los Angeles. He has worked in the radio and television industry for more than 15 years producing commercials and serving as a morning show personality both in Peru and the United States. "He (Ysaac) is an experienced on-air personality that has a lot to bring to the table," said Mega 95.5 program director Ricardo Otero.

In the absence of any clear indication the Chicago Creative Club Awards or any similar advertising awards show will happen in Chicago in the foreseeable future, the Chicago Advertising Federation has decided to encourage participation in the American Advertising Federation's longstanding Addy Awards. The Addys allow local winners to move on and potentially win top honors in a national competition.

Several years ago, the Chicago Creative Club Awards supposedly supplanted the local Addy Awards show as the major local competition to showcase creative excellence in the Chicago advertising community. But with the shrinking of the local ad industry and the glaring absence of any strong local industry leadership in recent years, the CCC Awards infrastructure collapsed. There was no local awards show in 2010.

For the past year, a committee of local ad executives has been exploring what kind of awards show Chicago should have and how it should be structured. Last we heard, the exploration was still in progress. The CAF board of directors apparently concluded the Addy Awards competition was the best option for local agencies -- at least in the short term. The CAF hasn't yet decided whether it will host an actual awards show in conjunction with the local Addy competition.

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Picture 2.pngAs he prepared Tuesday to move into the top creative job at Euro RSCG/Chicago starting Dec. 1, Jason Peterson, 42, was full of high hopes that he will play an instrumental role in helping make Euro one of Chicago's top ad shops. Peterson, of course, wouldn't be the first creative to arrive in Chicago with such an optimistic attitude, only to be quickly forced to confront a less rosy reality.

I've always had a soft spot for Chicago advertising," said Peterson in an interview Tuesday. His first full-time job in advertising was at a small, now defunct Chicago agency. The majority of his career has been in New York. But Peterson said he used to stand in front of the Leo Burnett building and imagine it was Disneyland. If Peterson has been following Burnett in recent years, however, it might be more difficult for him to conjure such a fantasy.

But one thing is certain: Peterson has a big job ahead of him if he is to succeed at making Euro RSCG/Chicago a major player. First he will have to contend with the absence of any significant, high-profile above-the-line accounts. Euro is said to be in hot pursuit of the Sonic fast food chain account, but if the shop doesn't land that piece of business, Peterson will have to look elsewhere for an account that he could parlay into a calling card to attract additional new business to Euro. And new business is what the agency desperately needs to begin to rebound.

Plus, Peterson will have to contend with the fact Euro RSCG's below-the-line business has been the tail wagging the dog for some time now. Absent that, the agency probably would have closed its doors long ago. Peterson expressed excitement about working with Euro leader Ron Bess ("the most genuine man I've met in the business") and with Joy Schwartz and Jamie King, who have been doing most of the hands-on running of Euro RSCG/Chicago and trolling for new business.

But King was a good friend of Steffan Postaer. With Postaer removed from any position of real power, the landscape at Euro RSCG is considerably changed from what it was when King arrived. And sources now say King may not be sticking around much longer to see what Peterson can accomplish.

At Translation/New York, his most recent outpost, Peterson was focused on work aimed at adolescent and young adult demos. He said he wants to run a creative department and work on a "wider palette" now, and he intends to make that happen at Euro RSCG. Peterson plans to move his family to Chicago, so he looks to be serious. As it always does though, only time will tell what Peterson can achieve.

Bobby Hull and Kids.jpgThe newest TV spot from the Chicago Blackhawks is debuting just in time to help holiday gift shoppers. With an assist from iconic retired Hawks player Bobby Hull, the commercial touts the just-released "One Goal Achieved" book about the long road to last season's Stanley Cup championship.

Hull is seen in the spot reading from the new book. The excerpt suggests Hull is responsible for the winning goal that gave the Hawks their 2010 Stanley Cup victory. But an astute young boy among the kids Hull is reading to speaks up to correct Hull on the matter of who scored the winning goal. It was Patrick Kane, not Hull. But Hull will have none of it.

The remainder of the spot is taken up with some perfunctory info about the new book. Hull, of course, does a fine job playing Hull, but overall, the spot lacks the kind of drama or the emotional hook that some of the better Hawks commercials of recent vintage have exhibited.

More on Jason Peterson, the newly-anointed chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago. An agency spokesman said Peterson intends to focus quickly on new business development -- an effort that has not yielded the kind of results agency management no doubt hoped to get in recent years with Steffan Postaer and Blake Ebel at the creative helm. "There's lots of new business floating around out there," said the Euro spokesman. Indeed there is, but getting it on the roster has proved daunting, not only for Euro, but plenty of other shops in Chicago.

Peterson attended the Portfolio Center in Atlanta and got his first job as an art director in advertising at the defunct Arian Lowe in Chicago, before moving on to New York, where he worked at Berlin Cameron and at Fallon before heading to Translation, where he is both executive creative director and a partner in the shop.

In his new role as Euro RSCG/Chicago chairman, Postaer, who was moved out of the chief creative officer job at Euro RSCG to make way for Peterson, will work on special projects for the agency and involve himself in pitches where appropriate, a spokesman said.

Postaer apparently also will be paid to continue working on his personal blog and his writing projects, which in recent years have included two novels -- one self-published and another about a gay interior decorator that has been released on the web in installments over the past several months.

Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting's Me-TV, seen in the Chicago and Milwaukee markets, will go national as a free, over-the-air television network for local broadcasters as early as January, 2011.

Me-TV will feature a 24/7 format showcasing many of the key, iconic series in genres such as comedy, drama, western adventure and crime/courtroom/detective series. Weigel has secured long-term licensing agreements for more than 50 individual series spanning the 1950's through the 1980's from multiple studios and independent producers.

Picture 2.pngSteffan Postaer is indeed out as chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago. But not out of the agency at least for now. Postaer's being kicked upstairs and will have the title of chairman, though it's unclear what duties he now will have at the agency. The new chief creative officer is Jason Peterson, effective Dec. 1. Peterson most recently served as executive creative director at Translation/New York. Peterson will report to Euro RSCG Chicago Group CEO Ron Bess.

"Jason has done some great work for some of the country's biggest brands," said Bess. "But what really attracted us to him was that he represents the future of creativity. He understands the new dynamic that digital and social media have brought to our clients, and I believe he can motivate our creative teams to come up with future-focused, big ideas in this space," added Bess.

As executive creative director at New York-based Translation, Peterson worked on business for McDonald's, Target, State Farm and Wrigley. Prior to Translation, he was a creative director and founding partner at Berlin Cameron and Partners/New York.

"Recently, there's been a lot of talk about chief creative officers with a lack of traditional and digital knowledge, when in reality there aren't many forward thinking agencies," said Peterson. "Euro RSCG has the best handle on new media and still knows the idea is essential. That's why they were the clear choice for me. Great creatives have caught up and what everyone should be looking for are people with big ideas," said Peterson.

Steffan Postaer is indeed out as chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago. But not out of the agency at least for now. He's being kicked upstairs and will have the title of chairman, though it's unclear what duties he will have at the agency. The new chief creative officer is Jason Peterson, effective Dec. 1. Peterson most recently served as executive creative director at Translation/New York. Peterson will report to Euro RSCG Chicago Group CEO Ron Bess.

As executive creative director at New York-based Translation, Peterson worked on business for McDonald's, Target, State Farm and Wrigley. Prior to Translation, he was a creative director and founding partner at Berlin Cameron and Partners/New York.

We've read through the Illinois Department of Revenue's formal response to Intralot's formal protest to the outcome of the Illinois Lottery private management bid process. And the response, spanning 23 densely-worded pages, certainly makes clear that Sokratis Kokkalis, the chairman of Intralot US's Greece-based parent Intralot SA, was of supreme interest to the folks at the Department of Revenue and at Kroll, the firm hired to do probity checks during the Illinois Lottery private management bid process.

What is almost totally glossed over in the extended portion of the Department's response that deals with Kokkalis and the various criminal indictments against him in years past is the fact that he was, according to the report, acquitted of all those past charges. Which, to us, begs the question: Are the charges really as damning as the Department of Revenue and Kroll would have us believe. In the eyes of the Department of Revenue and Kroll officials, dirt is dirt apparently. And it was enough for them merely to trot out the indictments and suggest Kokkalis and everything he may have touched was therefore tainted.

Intralot, we're told, is preparing a formal response to the Department of Revenue's formal response that should be in the Department's hands by Friday. And the protest goes on. We've heard that the state inspector general may be compelled to take a closer look at a lot of what has happened over the past four months before any contract is signed with the Northstar Lottery Group that Gov. Pat Quinn named the winner of the Lottery management contract on Sept. 15.

Is a big creative shake-up about to happen -- again -- at Euro RSCG/Chicago? Last summer Blake Ebel abruptly departed the Chicago shop as co-chief creative officer to take a job with a Colorado agency.

Now sources are reporting Steffan Postaer could be the next top creative out the door. Postaer's reign at Euro RSCG has been something considerably less than a complete success. With the blessing of Euro RSCG/Chicago leader Ron Bess, Postaer arrived in 2004 with the goal of helping complete the turnaround of a shop that been struggling for some time.

But Postaer wasn't able to develop much momentum on the new business front. Valspar paint was about as good as it got for the top creative who had helped transform Altoids into an iconic breath mint brand during his long tenure at Leo Burnett/Chicago. Creatively, there were occasional sparks of the sort that he brought to the unconventional Altoids work. But not enough.

To the consternation of some at Euro RSCG/Chicago, Postaer spent much of his free time during his tenure at the agency writing a couple of unusual novels. The latest dealt with a gay decorator, and the author released it chapter by chapter on the Internet.

It's unclear what might be the next step for Postaer. He thought long and hard before casting his fate with Euro RSCG. With the agency business rapidly evolving into something much different than it was even when Postaer came to Euro RSCG, it's hard to say what might be a good fit for him going forward.

Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 is bringing in new weather talent Bill Bellis. He has been a TV meteorologist in the Phoenix market for the past seven years. Bellis begins his new job at Channel 32 in late February. Undoubtedly Bellis will quickly discover the weather is more variable in Chicago than it typically is in Phoenix -- which may make his gig here more interesting. Or more challenging.

Current WFLD meteorologist Amy Freeze's contract is set to expire by year's end. No decision has been made about whether Freeze's contract will be renewed. If Freeze winds up departing the station, Bellis could become her replacement.

Digital agency Digitas/Chicago will announce today that Doug Ryan has joined the firm as managing director. As the digital advertising arena has expanded exponentially in recent years, Ryan is joining a shop that has tripled in size in less than three years. The client roster of Digitas/Chicago is made up of two-thirds Fortune 500 companies and more than 50 percent of them are Fortune 100 firms.

Ryan is the former principal and co-leader of Rebar Partners. Prior to Rebar, Ryan was executive vice-president, global client service director at Energy BBDO/chicago, where he led the integrated global agency marketing team for Beam Global Spirits & Wine and provided strategic leadership to Wrigley global marketing and to the Chicago White Sox. During his time at Energy BBDO, Ryan oversaw a global agency team of approximately 75 marketing professionals handling traditional and digital communications.

Julie Kravitz and Brad Tohtz have been promoted to the position of editor at post production house Optimus/Chicago. "They possess a diversity of creative skill, have worked on both digital and traditional projects and are well-versed on various platforms, which is so necessary in today's challenging climate," said Optimus president Tom Duff. Kravitz graduated in 2004 from Washington University in St. Louis. After a stint in California, she moved back to the midwest to begin her pursuit of a career in editing. She joined Optimus as an assistant editor in 2007. Tohtz earned a degree in television and digital media production at Ferris State University and joined Optimus in 2005.

Song, Susanna.jpgBuffalo Grove-native Susanna Song joins CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 as a full-time general assignment reporter effective Dec. 13. Song comes to Channel 2 from KSTP-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she has been a reporter since 2007. Prior to that she worked at WEEK-TV in Peoria for three years.

Song is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. During her time at Medill, song worked on air for the Korean Broadcasting Channel in Chicago. Song also was an intern at Channel 2 in the summer of 2003.

United States Internet advertising revenues hit $6.4 billion in the third quarter of 2010, representing the highest quarterly result ever for the online advertising industry and a 17 percent increase from the same period in 2009. The third quarter 2010 revenue estimates were announced Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers Media. "Advertisers are shifting more of their brand messaging online, accounting for this welcome surge in a difficult economy," said David Silverman, a partner at PwC. "This trend reflects the accelerating shift in consume behavior towards the Internet and away from traditional media," added Silverman.

Maybe you thought it was over after Gov. Pat Quinn eked out a razor-thin win over Bill Brady? Well it ain't.

We're talking, of course, about the very protracted process to select a private manager for the Illinois Lottery. Gov. Pat Quinn announced on Sept. 15 that he had selected Northstar Lottery Group to manage the Lottery -- basically rubber stamping the recommendation made to him by the Illinois Department of Revenue. Northstar is comprised of Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO -- all of which currently have contracts with the Lottery.

But no private management contract with Northstar has been signed, and now we hear that really dark storm clouds are rapidly forming in the wake of the Department of Revenue's official response Friday to a formal protest lodged by Intralot, a contender for the Lottery management contract that was dumped early in the bid process.

It took nearly two months for the Department of Revenue to craft its formal response, and the contents, we're told, have angered the folks at Intralot. As Illinois Department of Revenue execs had threatened to do weeks ago, they made Intralot SA chairman Sokratis Kokkalis, who is based in Greece, a major focus of their response. One source who had read the lengthy response described the attack on Kokkalis as nothing less than "ferocious."

Now Intralot's next move may be to request that the state attorney general and/or inspector general take a look at what has unfolded during this entire process. The Illinois state legislature, which passed the legislation that prompted the selection of a private manager for the Lottery, may get back involved, as well.

It does not appear the Department of Revenue has completed its response to the formal protest also filed nearly two months ago by the Camelot Group, the other finalist for the private management contract.

We will post more on this now quickly-developing story as details become available. But, in the meantime, we can definitely confirm that it ain't over. And there is no indication it will be any time soon.

Our condolences to the family of radio engineer Mark Zerang, who passed away late Friday after battling lung cancer. Though we didn't know him personally, we had heard him named and thanked on many radio broadcasts in recent years. And it's become clear to us in just the past few days that he was among the finest -- and most widely respected -- radio engineers working in Chicago. Zerang's death will certainly leave some very large shoes to fill in the engineering ranks in the local radio market.

A wake for Zerang is being held today at Drake and Sons, 5303 N. Western Avenue in Chicago. The funeral is Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. at St. Ita's Catholic Church, 5500 N. Broadway in Chicago. Interment is private.

Heather Danby has joined Euro RSCG/Chicago as an account director reporting directly to Tricia Clark, a group account director at the shop. Prior to joining Euro RSCG, Danby was a management director at DraftFCB/Chicago, where she worked on business development initiatives and managed client relationships with Kmart and the United States Postal Service. Her expertise spans digital, direct mail, retail and shopper marketing. Danby's 16 years of experience in the ad business also has involved managing business -to-business and business-to-consumer marketing campaigns for Kellogg and the National Cattleman's Beef Association.

The thoughts and prayers of many of Chicago's most prominent radio personalities and executives are with freelance radio engineer Mark Zerang, who is mounting a brave fight against lung cancer. Zerang has in fact been battling cancer for more than two years, but only went public with his fight two weeks ago.

By all accounts, Zerang is considered a true legend in Chicago radio broadcasting circles, though he works behind the scenes, not in front of the microphone. Over the course of a career spanning more than 25 years, Zerang has worked with a wide array of familiar broadcasters, including Pat Foley, Tom Thayer, Troy Murray, Steve Dahl, Hub Arkush, Ed Farmer and many more.

"It was never about him; it is always about the games, the broadcasters and the fans," said Mitch Rosen, program director at CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM (670). Zerang's one goal in his job has been to ensure the sound of whatever show he was working on was exactly what it needed to be for the listening public. Over the past quarter century, Zerang has engineered countless sporting events for radio, including Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks and Bulls games. He also has enhanced the broadcasts of various talents beyond sports, including Dahl, Kevin Matthews and Orion Samuelson.

Many of the people who have worked with Zerang over the years have in recent days paid a visit to his home in Rogers Park to thank him and once again acknowledge their respect for him and his amazing skills.

The Community Media Workshop at Columbia College Chicago has released the 20th edition of its comprehensive local media reference guide, the 2011 Getting on Air, Online & Into Print. As the resource book's title suggests, the guide has expanded to reflect the evolving media world. The book now includes information about local media blogs and Twitter accounts and breaks out journalist contact info according to subject matter they cover. For more information about the book, visit

dust jacket cover low res.jpgThe Chicago Blackhawks are making sure they extract maximum marketing oomph from their Stanley Cup triumph last season. On Nov. 23, the team will release "One Goal Achieved: The Inside Story of the 2010 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks."

Published by the Blackhawks and distributed by Triumph Books, is an exhaustive look back at the 2009-10 season that culminated in the Hawks winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in 49 long years. The book includes insights about the season from the team front office staff, broadcasters and beat writer. The book also includes a foreword by team president John McDonough, preface by chairman Rocky Wirtz and an afterword by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

A bonus DVD includes locker room footage from the night the team won the Cup and video from the Stanley Cup parade and rally in Chicago. Suggested list price for the book and DVD is $39.95.

We finally heard from Tim Pontarelli, and we can now re-confirm that, yes, after more than 20 years in the employ of Leo Burnett/Chicago (with much of that time spent on the agency's Hallmark business), Pontarelli has indeed parted ways with the shop. But he apparently did not leave the agency as one of the victims of the recent bloodbath/restructuring that claimed more than two dozen employees.

Rather Pontarelli coincidentally exited at the same time because he did not wish to accept a new, non-Hallmark-focused job that chief creative officer Susan Credle had offered him. "It was time to go," said Pontarelli, who is looking forward to some time off to consider his options, which might include working for another agency or getting into the production end of the business, including directing. In fact, he is headed out to the west coast now to hang for a while with his mentor Joe Pytka, one of the most legendary of all TV commercial directors and the man who helmed Pontarelli's masterpiece, the Hallmark spot titled "Hooper."

Meanwhile, we're told that the Hallmark account has now been put under the control of Burnett creative Jeanie Caggiano. She also heads up the Allstate account, where "Mayhem" has been much in evidence in recent months -- referring to the high profile campaign that personified mayhem and aimed to amuse some viewers and strike fear in the souls of others.

But Caggiano and others probably were not pleased to hear the news coming from Allstate the past couple of days: Allstate policyholders in large numbers are not renewing their policies. That could signal a need for a change in marketing tactics. Will "Mayhem" prevail? We'll see.

McGarryBowen/Chicago -- one of just a couple of Chicago ad agencies that can truly be said to be growing in a market where accounts skitter out of town with shocking and depressing regularity -- has hit the jackpot again.

Sources report McGarry, which works on a huge chunk of Kraft business and recently added Advil to the roster, is now prepping some Bud Light spots that could very well wind up debuting on the upcoming Super Bowl. We're told that the work McGarry hopes to sell to Bud Light parent Anheuser-Busch tries to bring a fresh feel and conceptual hook to the way-too-tired and predictable punch line schtick that has prevailed in the Bud Light work since DDB/Chicago first went in that direction many years ago.

And speaking of DDB/Chicago, the McGarry coup once again suggests that DDB is losing even more of its already tenuous grasp on one of its flagship accounts. Whatever has been happening -- for better or for worse in the closed-off bunker that is now DDB -- certainly has not managed to bring fresh spark to an agency that, sadly, seems to be terribly scared of even its own shadow at this late stage in its life.

Meanwhile, we won't know for sure whether the McGarry work will make the Super Bowl until it has gone through the rigorous focus group testing that all A-B advertising is subjected to before being cleared for airing on the big game. But sources say the Anheuser-Busch folks were mighty impressed with the sample work the McGarry crew presented recently.

Separately, on the Advil front, McGarry is also pushing to bring a new feel to a product in the pharmaceutical category via more of a story-driven approach. Let's hope the Advil execs buy into it. The world can always use a few more good -- or even great -- story-driven commercials.

Former local radio personality Ryan Manno has joined All Terrain/Chicago, where he will focus on event execution and lifestyle marketing. One of his first projects will be the opening of The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, slated for December. "Ryan offers extensive event experience and relationships with both Chicago and national media and is a great asset to the growing team (here at All Terrain)," said Sarah Eck-Thompson, president and chief operating officer of the marketing firm.

Prior to joining All Terrain, Manno was an on-air personality at WKQX-FM (101.1) in Chicago. He is also a music curator at Angels & Kings, where he continues to produce a weekly, free showcase of Chicago artists called the "One Man(no) Show."

Rowley Samuel Headshot.jpgEnergy BBDO/Chicago has added Rowley Samuel as head of integrated production. In this role at the agency Samuel will oversee production across every format, including film, digital and print. Previously, Samuel was director, creative innovation at DDB/Chicago, where he worked on business for McDonald's, Reebok, State Farm, Budweiser and AT&T. "Rowley has a truly diverse and impressive track record, and a proven ability to bring creative work to life in smart, innovative ways," said Dan Fietsam, chief creative officer at Energy BBDO.

Glenn Tilton, chairman of United Continental Holdings and former CEO of United Airlines, has been honored with the American Cancer Society's inaugural CEO of the Year Award. Part of the ACS's Corporate Impact Award series, the CEO of the Year Award honors a corporate executive officer's excellence in leadership, personal commitment of time and impact in the fight against cancer in the workplace.

Under Tilton's leadership, United Airlines made cancer-related programs the cornerstone of its volunteer efforts. Through a multi-year, cause-related "Hugyou Teddy Bear Family" program, United and its customers have generated more than 148 million airline miles and nearly half a million dollars in cash contributions for cancer patients and their families who need to travel for treatment.

Bob Winter.JPGYoung & Rubicam/Chicago has tapped Bob Winter to succeed Ken Erke as its chief creative officer.

Winter, who starts at Y&R on Dec. 6, comes to his new post from Leo Burnett/Chicago, where he was an executive creative director for the past four years. Winter is coming as the top creative to a shop that is dominated by the huge Sears advertising account. Winter said he wanted the Y&R post more than anything because it would give him the opportunity he craved to put his unique stamp on an ad agency and make it a place where he is happy to work and where he hopes plenty of other talented creatives will want to work as well.

But it won't be easy. Sears has gone through several top marketing execs in recent years, and when there is a revolving door on the client side, that always can make for potentially treacherous relations with agencies that service the client. But Winter said he has been told by Erke and by others who should know that Y&R's relationship with Sears is as solid as it has ever been. For Winter's sake, let's hope he's been given good information.

Winter said he's been working a lot recently on Kellogg business at Burnett, where he has found his boss, top creative Susan Credle, to be "tough but personable." Winter is perhaps most famous -- and widely respected -- for the Bud Light "Real Men of Genius" radio campaign he created during his nine years at DDB/Chicago. That campaign has -- deservedly -- won numerous top advertising awards and still continues to run many years after its debut.

It's official. Tera Williams will not return to Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32 as a general assignment reporter. She had been out on maternity leave since August. Williams is leaving the station to live with her husband Mike Barz, who is now working in Jacksonville, Fla. Barz previously had been a host on WFLD's morning show "Good Day, Chicago," but parted ways with WFLD in 2009, after the station launched an investigation of his behavior at a party attended by other WFLD staffers.

Laura Cordell has been promoted from producer of weekend morning newscasts to producer of the weekday early morning newscast at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. Astrid Greve also is joining Channel 7 as a writer/producer on the station's weekend morning newscasts. Cordell came to WLS-Channel 7 from Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32, where she produced the station's 5 am newscast. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School and has a master's degree from Marquette University. Greve, who starts at WLS on Nov. 8, is currently an executive producer at WTVG-TV in Toledo, where she supervises line producers and does fill-in work as a producer.

Leo Burnett/Chicago has laid off significant numbers of staffers in recent days -- more than two dozen by some accounts. Those now gone from the iconic Chicago agency are believed to include long-time creative Tim Pontarelli, who for a number of years had been the lead creative on Burnett's all-important and longstanding Hallmark account. Pontarelli did not return a call seeking comment.

Though Pontarelli didn't have as much hands-on involvement with the Hallmark account in recent times, he was still perceived as the creative ringleader on the business. Some observers suspect Pontarelli's departure may be linked to efforts by Burnett chief creative officer Susan Credle to put the account more firmly under her control.

Still Pontarelli was directly involved in the creation of what, from this vantage point, remains the single best -- and most moving -- piece of work to come out of Burnett in the past decade -- a Hallmark spot called "Hooper." The brilliantly-conceived commercial, directed by veteran Joe Pytka, tells the story of a young woman who comes to see her retiring college professor and tell him -- with the help of a Hallmark card -- how much the prof helped shape her life.

The rest of the layoffs at Burnett are believed to be connected at least in part to a rumored departure of the giant Samsung global account. A portion of the work on that huge piece of business was handled out of Burnett's flagship Chicago office.

A Burnett spokeswoman confirmed there were "job eliminations" caused by "the difficult decision to restructure a bit." The spokeswoman also said it would be "incorrect" to say the Samsung account is leaving Burnett.

CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM (670) made it official Wednesday. The station said it has inked a new five-year deal with the Chicago White Sox to broadcast all regular and post-season White Sox games, along with a number of spring training games. WSCR has been the home for radio broadcast of White Sox games since the 2006 season. "We looking forward to continuing this great partnership and growing our brands together," said Rod Zimmerman, senior vice-president and market manager for CBS Radio Chicago.

As part of the new deal, the White Sox said they would also launch a dedicated White Sox HD radio channel on 104.3-3 that will feature programming created exclusively by the club. "The potential growth in the HD radio industry presents a strong business opportunity for the White Sox," said Brooks Boyer, the team's marketing honcho, who also indicated the new channel would provide an additional opportunity to communicate with both White Sox and casual baseball fans. The launch date of the HD Channel will be announced at a later date.

The Chicago White Sox and CBS Radio Chicago's sports talk WSCR-AM (670) will announce as early as Wednesday that they have inked a new broadcast deal that gives WSCR exclusive radio rights to air all White Sox games -- more than 160 a season -- for each of the next five years.

The new contract extends by another five years the first five-year deal between WSCR and the White Sox. Prior to moving to WSCR, the White Sox were heard on ESPN Radio's sports talk WMVP-AM (1000).

Sources say WSCR is expected to stick with its current team of on-air talent for White Sox games, including pre- and post-show host Chris Rongey and the game play-by-play announcer team of Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson.

The White Sox have not performed up to their World Champion standard the past several seasons. But the baseball team remain an important sports franchise in the city, and WSCR negotiated long and hard to ensure the White Sox remained on board at the station.

monster ad.jpgIt may not immediately strike some as a particularly humorous print ad. But it is certainly job search site's intention to strike a cheeky note of levity in a new print ad that will appear in select newspapers Wednesday -- by which time a lot of people in various government jobs will have a much clearer sense of whether or not they will still have a job.

For those elected politicians who may indeed find themselves out of job, hopes its ad from BBDO/New York will serve as a useful and friendly reminder that the job search site is there to help any and all government workers looking to transition to the private sector.

American Airlines has launched a new national ad campaign aimed at United States Hispanic travelers. Titled "Aprendi" ("I learned"), the campaign from Zubi Advertising aims to recognize that Hispanics travel in large numbers to their home countries, but they also travel to expand horizons and experience new places. A new TV spot focuses on both the emotional and the educational aspects of world travel.

AA is a major carrier in Latin American countries and continues to add new frequencies to destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, among others. Altogether American Air serves 41 destinations in 17 Latin American countries. AA estimates that 41 percent of Hispanics living in the United States reside in American Airlines hub cities, including New York, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles and Miami.

LA Gear_Step into The Lights.jpgGertrude Inc./Chicago has just completed what is indeed a flashy new commercial for a line of flashy L.A. Gear sneakers with flashing lights embedded in their heels, collectively known as the L.A. Lights Collection. The TV spot features the flashy movements of four young members of the Borjas family, a.k.a. the Chi-Town Finest Breakers, who do a fine job of showing off the shoes and their own deft dance moves.

The four dancing stars are Lucio, Alazaie, Santos and Enrique Borjas.
Gertrude Inc. also brought on board an extended team of talented individuals and firms to create the spot called "Step into the Lights." They include director Jay Patton of Dictionary Films, copywriter Peter Toutant, motion designer and editor Chris Anderson of Sol Design, editor Christopher Gotschall of Cutters Editorial, and music composer Mark Share of Easyfeel. Overseeing all aspects of the effort was Gertrude chief creative officer Otis D. Gibson.

"Step into the Lights" is being released to coincide with the ramp-up to the all-important holiday selling season. L.A. Gear was originally founded in 1979 to market and rent roller skates in Venice Beach, Calif. It expanded into footwear in the mid-1980's and was re-introduced to the marketplace in December, 2008.

Urban contemporary WGCI-FM's (107.5) midday host Loni Swain has scored a nice coup. She will interview President Barack Obama live via telephone from the White House at 12:43 p.m. today. The interview is said to be about the President encouraging listeners to get out and vote, rather than about pushing one or more of the candidates he supports in various races. A WGCI spokeswoman said Obama chose to go live on election day on WGCI because he knows the station and is comfortable making an appearance on it. The interview will air several more times during the day, according to the WGCI spokeswoman.

We were out of the country for a week, and guess what, it still ain't over. We're referring, of course, to the protracted Illinois Lottery private management contract bid process. When we left a week ago, the formal protests lodged by losing finalist Camelot Group and ex-contender Intralot were still in process.

And as of late Monday, according to a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue, there was no indication when a formal response to both protests would be issued or when a management contract might be signed. Gov. Pat Quinn awarded the Lottery management contract on Sept. 15 to the Northstar Lottery Group, comprised of Gtech, Scientific Games and Energy BBDO/Chicago, which respectively supply technology, games and advertising to the Lottery

But it's at least clear no response to the protests will be forthcoming -- and no Illinois Lottery private management contract signed -- until after today's vote, which could render Gov. Pat Quinn a lame duck and possibly throw a new wrench in the proceedings.

We also heard that while we were away the Illinois Department of Revenue apparently was busy distancing itself from any allegations of blackmail -- or what could have been interpreted as blackmail by some -- in a meeting between representatives from the department and Intralot on Oct. 19. The Department of Revenue, however, has not denied a meeting took place.

In any event, more to come in the next several days. Just remain mindful of what we've said all along: It ain't over until it's over.

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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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