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

February 2011 Archives

More on the situation at Element 79/Chicago. To answer the most pressing question first. Yes, the agency is searching for a new creative leader to replace Dennis Ryan, who is exiting to become chief creative officer at Olson/Minneapolis.Sources tell us Element 79 is well along in its search for a new top creative with energy and vitality who can help the company land some new business pronto. Candidates in Chicago and beyond are being considered, we're told.

Element 79 has recently picked up at least one new piece of business, the La Quinta hotel chain. But that probably won't be enough to compensate for the possible loss of its Cricket account.

Element 79 is making its pitch next week to retain the Cricket account, which is certainly one of the shop's biggest and most lucrative accounts. Element 79 will be making that pitch, most likely, without a top creative to lead the effort. Sources inside Element 79 insist the shop is prepared to make a strong pitch, though many observers outside the shop say it might require a miracle of some sort for the agency to hold on to the business.

As for Ryan, no one inside Element 79 apparently believes he left at this crucial moment because he feared the Cricket pitch would not go well. Rather, sources say Ryan was eager to remake himself as an expert in social media, digital and all other aspects of advertising on the cutting edge. And so the story goes, Ryan apparently felt he could best achieve that transformation by making a new start at an agency such as Olson.

Chicago Bulls team ambassador Scottie Pippen will join Comcast SportsNet's game announcing duo of Neil Funk and Stacey King as a color analyst for the March 4th telecast of the game against the Orlando Magic.

In addition, Pippen will handle game analyst duties for every Bulls playoff telecast on CSNC beginning in mid-April. That is, of course, if the Bulls make it to the playoffs, which many knowledgeable observers believe will be the case. CSNC has the rights to telecast only the first round of the NBA playoffs.

"Scottie Pippen is most certainly one of the greatest players in NBA history whose knowledge and passion of the game is second to none," said James J. Corno, president of Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

PaulaHunsche-Color[1].jpgPaula Hunsche has joined Jacobson Rost/Chicago as executive media director. She will focus on integrating the agency's growing media capabilities in innovative ways that change how clients' brands relate to consumers.

Hunsche joins Jacobson Rost after serving in an interim managing director, client leadership role at Mindshare, where she was responsible for spearheading the United States communications plans for BP and advising them on key approaches following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident. Previously, she served as a communications architect with Starcom MediaVest Group for more than decade, working on brands such as Kellogg, Allstate and Del Monte.

"We're excited to have Paula join our integrated marketing team, as she brings to the agency a wealth of experience in all facets of strategic media planning, media buying and measurement to deepen our digital capabilities and social media bench strength," said Jerry Flemma, president and chief operating officer for Jacobson Rost.

A nice win for Tom, Dick & Harry/Chicago. The agency has been awarded digital, branding, print and public relations duties for clothing chain Mark Shale. The win comes just days after Mark Shale announced it has hired fashion designer Maria Pinto as creative director for women's fashion.

TD&H won the account following an agency review. TD&H was awarded the business after "demonstrating a keen understanding of our brand, as well as what is needed to leverage our new relationship with Maria Pinto," according to Mark Shale CEO Scott Baskin. "TD&H demonstrated the creative sensitivity that we feel is necessary to adequately communicate what Mark Shale will be all about," added Pinto.

The agency's initial duties will include a complete website revamp to reflect the new brand direction for the Chicago-based men's and women's fashion retailer.

DennisRyan_Snowmen.jpegA lot of folks have been wondering for some time about the future of Element 79/Chicago. Now that its chief creative officer Dennis Ryan is exiting to become chief creative officer at Olson/Minneapolis, the wondering is sure to reach an even more fevered pitch.

The truth of the matter is Element 79/Chicago has been a shadow of its former self since PepsiCo pulled out vast chunks of business over a very short of period of time several years ago. Ryan and CEO Brian Williams never could find the new business needed to patch up the gaping hole the major account losses left in the agency's client roster.

Ryan is now jumping to a Minneapolis shop that bills itself as one of the top 10 independent full-service agencies in North America. That may very well be the case, but what Olson doesn't have is a high profile creative reputation. Is Ryan the creative person to give them that? Some astute observers in the local ad community seriously doubt that Ryan could, given his inability to help pull Element 79 out of the deep hole it fell into after the PepsiCo pullout.

If nothing else, however, Ryan has proved savvy at keeping one or two steps ahead of any troubles that might be threatening to befall him. He could see the walls closing in around him at JWT/Chicago, when he jumped to Element 79. And some speculate that could have been the case as well with his decision to jump to Olson.

But the question remains: whither Element 79? Will the shop finally merge with DDB/Chicago, as many have suggested could be a relatively painless way to deal with Element 79's uncertain future?

Or will Williams try to go out and find some hotshot creative whippersnapper who could transform the shop overnight and make it the hot spot it hasn't been in quite some time. Some might say it's never been a particularly hot shop, but we'll leave that discussion for a later date.

For now, we will watch and see what success Ryan has in Minneapolis, where he will eventually relocate. Ryan starts his new job Mar. 7.

The deal apparently calls for Ryan to live in Chicago for the next year and commute four days a week to Minneapolis and work one day a week at Olson's Chicago office, which is currently the outpost for Dig Communications, a public relations firm Olson recently acquired.

That one-year window should give both Olson and Ryan ample time to decide if the marriage is going to work. An Olson spokeswoman said Olson expects to expand its Dig operations in Chicago into a full-service advertising agency at some point in the future.

Ryan had this to say about the new gig: "I can't think of a more exciting creative job right now than mashing upon really smart marketing specialities into new brand ideas at Olson." There you go.

Olson clients include Lipton tea, Amtrak, Target, General Mills and Fifth Third Bank.

The holidays were really good to Clear Channel Radio's WLIT-FM (93.9). And January wasn't bad either, according to the Arbitron ratings report released Monday.

WLIT lost a big chunk of the huge rating that catapulted it to the top in the key 25 to 54 adult demo in the holiday Arbitron book, but the station held on to enough of its massive holiday audience in the January Arbitron book to remain in a tie for fifth place in the rankings with all-news WBBM-AM (780), which had the Chicago Bears broadcasts and a lot of lousy weather to attract listeners during the month.

It appears many listeners who flocked to WLIT for holiday music weren't as quick to abandon the station this time around after the seasonal music stopped. As recently as the October book, WLIT was in a tie for 11th place.

But WLIT's numbers were trending downward at the end of the January book, so the station could end up several notches lower in the rankings when the February book is released.

Elsewhere, Bonneville International's three Chicago outlets all made it into the top 10, with hot adult contemporary WTMX-FM (101.9) in first place, classic hits WDRV-FM (971) in third and adult contemporary WILV-FM (100.3) in a tie for seventh place. Bonneville has sold all of its top-performing Chicago outlets to Hubbard Broadcasting in a deal that is expected to close in late April or early May.

The Mix has just introduced a new format from 8 pm to midnight, the station's weakest daypart, ratings-wise. The new format, called "U-Mix-It," allows listeners to interactively create the playlist each evening at the station's website. Station executives are calling the format an "experiment" that could disappear as quickly as it surfaced if it doesn't generate a significant ratings boost.

Both of the city's major news/talk outlets, Citadel Broadcasting's WLS-AM (890) and Tribune Co.'s WGN-AM (720) are struggling to gain traction. Despite the news hook of a mayoral race, WLS-AM wound up in 24th place overall in the 25 to 54 adult demo in January, down from a stronger 16th place showing as recently as November.

With the Citadel radio station chain said to be in talks to be acquired by Cumulus Media, WLS general manager Michael Damsky was making no predictions about the future on Tuesday. "I'm just happy to have survived the blizzard and the Bears," he said. WGN-AM was only marginally better than WLS in the January book, winding up in a tie for 22nd place overall among adults 25 to 54, with CBS Radio Chicago's adult contemporary WCFS-FM (105.9).

Observers continue to suggest WCFS could be a prime candidate for a simulcast of sports talk WSCR-AM (670), which proves the popularity of a sports format in a sports-obsessed town like Chicago. WSCR got a bump up to 12th place in the January book from 15th in the holiday book among adults 25 to 54. The station was in 2nd place in January in the target 25 to 54 male demo.

The peak advertising awards season is fast approaching, but already we have word from the folks at Energy BBDO/Chicago that the shop has picked up a Gold Pencil at the One Show Entertainment Awards ceremony earlier this week in Los Angeles. The award was given to the agency's "Dirty Shorts" campaign for Orbit gum, created in partnership with DumbDumb, a digital content and production studio headed by Will Arnett and Jason Bateman.

"Dirty Shorts" is a series of original branded short films in which Orbit helps clean up some rather dirty situations. In one of the films called "The Dancer," Bateman dresses in drag to play a stripper who dispenses Orbit to clean up the dirty minds of some of a strip club's habitues. To date, the Orbit films have generated more than 2.7 million views.

"We see this honor as a testament to innovative energy, creative ambition and lots of "what's possible thinking," observed Dan Fietsam, chief creative officer at Energy BBDO. One Show Entertainment Awards was launched in 2008 to recognize the merger between brands and entertainment.

image001.jpgWLS-Channel 7 weekend sports anchor Ryan Chiaverini and WGN-Channel 9 morning show anchor and traffic reporter Valerie Warner have been tapped as hosts of Channel 7's new morning show that has the working title "Morning Rush."

The new program, which will air at 9 a.m. live in front of a studio audience, could launch as early as late spring, soon after the final installment of the "Oprah Winfrey Show" airs in late May.

Chiaverini and Warner were selected from some 80 contenders for the co-host job that were given serious consideration by "Morning Rush" executive producer Marlaine Selip and supervising producer Cindy Patrasso. Some 20 of those 80 finalists were paired together over the course of several weeks of auditions to determine which duo had the best chemistry.

Selip said Chiaverini got the nod, in large part, because of his "warmth and likeability." Selip also called Warner "smart, relatable and just plain fun to watch."

Chiaverini joined the WLS news team in 2006. In addition to serving as weekend sports anchor and weekday reporter, Chiaverini has hosted "The Chicago Huddle," where he liked to do fun segments bantering with Chicago Bears players.

Warner joined Channel 9 in 2005 as weekday morning show anchor. Among other things, she has reported on politics and health topics, including diabetes and breast cancer.

BILL BELLIS PRINT.jpgFour months after he was pegged as the new lead weather anchor at ratings-challenged WFLD-Channel 32, Bill Bellis finally makes his debut on the station's 9 p.m. newscast on Feb. 23. He replaces Amy Freeze, whose contract was not renewed.

Bellis comes to Chicago from KNXV-TV in Phoenix, where he served as chief meteorologist for eight years. Bellis said he never thought he would give up the sun and desert life of Arizona for the mish-mash of a climate we have here in Chicago. But he decided the move to WFLD is an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

Meanwhile WFLD general manager Michael Renda praised Bellis' dynamic personality, concise delivery and no-nonsense forecasting style -- all assets that apparently will be useful as Renda seeks to make his station the "go-to weather authority in Chicago."

That goal may be news to the folks at WGN-Channel 9, which in the thick of the blizzard earlier this month, identified itself as the go-to outlet for weather reports in the city. WGN has had the popular Tom Skilling on staff for years. Bellis is the newcomer. We will see if Bellis indeed has what it takes to knock Skilling off his perch.

Keith_Moreland_Convention.JPGKeith Moreland has been named the new color analyst for the Chicago Cubs radio broadcasts on Tribune Co.-owned WGN-AM (720). He succeeds longtime analyst Ron Santo, who passed away late last year.

Moreland, 56, spent six of his 12 major league seasons with the Cubs from 1982 to 1987, helping the Cubs win the 1984 National League East title. He played third base, first base, outfield and catcher while he was with the team.

Moreland brings 16 years of experience as the radio color analyst of the University of Texas baseball program to his new job. He has also been a fill-in analyst for Cubs radio and television broadcasts.

"I'm very excited to work with a great broadcaster in Pat Hughes, a great team in the Cubs that I was lucky enough to play for and a great radio station that has the power to reach millions of Cubs fans," said Moreland. "I'm not a replacement for Ron Santo -- he's impossible to replace," added Moreland.

"Keith will display the same passion, instincts and knowledge for the game during our WGN radio broadcasts as he did on the field," said Crane Kenney, president of the Cubs.

mike_peggy.jpegFor now, TV pitchman Mike Rowe is hot. We have no doubt he is in demand largely because he is eminently good at pitching himself as just a guy like tens of millions of other guys out there. Believable in other words.

But as sure as the sun rises and sets, the day is bound to come when Rowe's run will come to an end. That will probably be because he has become too good and too successful as the everyman pitchman. Eventually, people will become more skeptical and begin to stop buying him and whatever he's pitching.

That day surely hasn't come yet. He's done a smash-up job for Ford, so other brands want him while he still is sizzling. Take Viva towels for instance. The connection makes sense. Rowe isn't afraid to get his hands dirty. Viva exists to clean up dirt. The perfect match.

So to add something fresh to the mix along with Rowe in his debut as a Viva towels pitchman, Tris3ct/Chicago paired him with his real-life parents. In the spot, a dirtied-up Rowe is seen leaving dirt marks all around his parents' home as his mother races around behind him cleaning up with Viva.

It's another very believable turn as spokesman for Rowe. His run certainly isn't over. Not yet.

It Gets Better Screengrab.JPGThese are not the best of times for DraftFCB. Among other things, the shop is under the gun to hold on to its giant S.C. Johnson account, which is in review. If it goes away, DraftFCB will kiss goodbye to an estimated $1 billion in billings.

But on a kinder, gentler note, the agency has created a new video to support the "It Gets Better" project initiated last year by columnist and author Dan Savage. In this instance, "it gets better" refers to the belief that the world is slowly becoming a better, more welcoming place for gays and lesbians, though no one would suggest the battle is done.

The DraftFCB video features an array of DraftFCB staffers ranging from CEO Laurence Boschetto to public relations honcho Wally Petersen and others in various DraftFCB outposts recounting some of the tough times they've had in their lives and encouraging all within earshot to believe it does get better.

A DraftFCB spokeswoman said the agency is not the first advertising shop to create such a video, but it is perhaps the largest to do so to date. Of course it takes guts to stand in front of a camera and talk very publicly and candidly about one's identity and one's life struggles. And we suspect many in ad agencies here in Chicago and elsewhere who might relate to the message in the video would not be as willing to do what these gutsy DraftFCB folk have done.

If the video inspires courage and hope in others that see it, well, it will have been a gutsy deed with a wonderful payoff.

Samantha Zackowitz has joined ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 as a staff producer. She will focus much of her time on developing segments for the station's "190 North" weekly leisure and entertainment program.

Zackowitz started at WLS as an intern in the news and programming departments and then continued her involvement with the station as a freelance producer. Three years later Zackowitz, we're told, has two Emmys for excellence in the television industry on her mantel. Along the way, Zackowitz also got to produce her dream segment for "190 North" about the Chicago Blackhawks season that culminated in winning the Stanley Cup.

kevin_4x6.jpegKevin Gilbert has joined Tris3ct/Chicago as chief strategy officer. Gilbert will report to Dick Thomas, the agency's CEO, and he will be responsible for directing the agency's research and account planning across the agency's client roster.

Gilbert comes to Tris3ct from Arc Worldwide/Leo Burnett, where he was a strategic planning director working on the McDonald's account.

During his tenure at Arc, Gilbert was involved in launching several new McDonald's product initiatives, including McCafe, the Angus burger and snack wraps.

"Kevin has built a strong reputation for uncovering behavioral insights that have sparked innovative marketing programs for top global brands," said Thomas.

Ford Motor Co. has embraced social media. In a keynote breakfast address Wednesday at the Chicago Auto Show, Jim Farley, Ford's vice-president of global marketing, said the auto company has learned a lot about how to effectively employ social media with the introduction of a new Ford Explorer that is manufactured in Chicago.

"It is a great example of how a company with a new marketing model is able to do things we have never done before," Farley said.

Farley also said Ford's approach to marketing the new model Explorer has helped debunk the thinking that Detroit is not open to new ideas.

Ford decided against introducing the new Explorer via a traditional television ad campaign. Instead, seven months before the first Explorer was sold, Ford started a conversation with fans of the sport utility vehicle on Facebook.

Ford wound up with nearly 140,000 fans of the new Explorer. The customer feedback from those tens of thousands of Facebook fans helped the auto maker develop the subsequent print and TV campaigns for the Ford Explorer launch. That ad campaign focuses on the American family and the theme of the "great American road trip."

Farley said Ford's new social media marketing efforts have made the company think differently about marketing. "First we start early, and we're flexible in the direction the campaign can take," Farley said. "We allow the customer to influence everything, but we need to be relevant and authentic," he added.

Toward that end, Ford announced Wednesday it is launching an interactive promotion called "Explorer -- Go. Do. Adventures." Ford is asking consumers to tell the company how they would use the Explorer to create a dream road trip. Ford will film several of the best submissions and create commercials from them, as well as an hour-long TV show.

Farley also referenced other ways Ford is using social media. The company posted a 10-minute video of auto racer Ken Block racing the Ford Fiesta on YouTube. The video has gotten 26 million views so far. "The Fiesta Movement really brought digital and social media to life for us," Farley said.

Ford is also behind a new five-week, interactive reality show broadcast on Hulu called "Focus Rally: America." Six pairs of people were selected to complete tasks around the country using technology features of the Focus.

The new show was introduced in a TV commercial before last Sunday's Super Bowl. Each of the participants in the rally will get $10,000 to donate to a charity of their choice. Farley cited research that said Americans wish more companies would support good causes.

Farley also predicted mobile devices would become an important marketing device. "Mobile phone advertising can be a great way to connect with someone one-to-one," Farley said.

Farley closed his speech by saying it is important for companies like Ford to "continue to explore new, forward-thinking" marketing solutions. "We are not just a car company, we are a technology company," Farley said.

Peak Performance, a Northbrook-based manufacturer and distributor of automotive aftermarket products, has named Energy BBDO/Chicago as its agency of record. The company previously worked with advertising partners on a project basis. Proximity/Chicago, Energy BBDO's digital-focused sibling, will also support the account. Kelly Scott & Madison will continue to serve as the Peak's media partner.

Peak is a sponsor of IndyCar and NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, who serves as the official product ambassador for the entire Peak line of products, including antifreeze, motor oil, wipers, care care and electronics. "We selected Energy BBDO because they really bring the edge that we need in the marketplace right now," said Susan Sperling, director of marketing for Peak.

Independent ad agency Schafer Condon Carter/Chicago has purchased the C.C.P. Holden building at 1027 W. Madison St. in Chicago's west loop neighborhood. The agency plans to move its operations to the 34,500 square-foot building in the fall of 2011, after an extensive renovation. SCC will be working with Chicago-based Widler Architecture on the restoration, which will focus on conservation and sustainability.

C.C.P. Holden, was a well-known Chicago political figure, railroad magnate and real estate developer who was very involved in reconstruction efforts after the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. He built the structure SCC has just purchased in 1872.

SCC has seen steady growth and expansion since its start in 1989. The agency has accelerated growth in recent years through acquisition of Romani Bros. in 2008, the relaunch of the PR united under Mike Grossman and the addition of David Selby as agency president.

CareerBuilderSit-In.jpgFirst the Lincoln Park Zoo sounded the alarm Monday concerning Careerbuilder.com's decision to use chimpanzees in its Super Bowl TV spot Sunday. Zoo officials said putting chimps in commercials makes the public think chimps aren't an endangered species, when, in fact, they are.

Now PETA, an animal rights organization that knows a public relations opportunity when it sees one, also made Careerbuilder.com the focus of a sit-in Tuesday to protest the use of chimps in the commercial.

Four PETA supporters wearing chimp masks and holding protest signs occupied the lobby of Careerbuilder.com's LaSalle Street headquarters to bring attention to what the organization asserts are the "abuses suffered by great apes used as 'actors'." To buttress its claims that chimps suffer while being trained as actors, PETA referenced an unnamed primatologist who reportedly spent 14 months working at a California facility that trained great apes for the TV and movie industries. That source allegedly observed trainers kicking, punching and beating baby chimpanzees in order to make them obedient.

Sunday's Super Bowl ad wasn't the first Careerbuilder.com Super Bowl effort to feature chimps. Ads the company ran in 2005 and 2006 also used chimps.

Hawk & Buehrle Screen Grab.jpgHumor is back in the new ad campaign from Energy BBDO/Chicago for the 2011 Chicago White Sox season that is about to break. The campaign tagline is "All In," a reference, we're told, to the belief that the White Sox now have on board a roster of players that are fully capable of taking the team to the World Series this year. We can only hope, right?

One of the first TV spots that will break in the new campaign is set in a grocery store, where we are witness to an unusual recreation of a spectacular and intricate play that occurred on opening day of the 2010 baseball season. That play involved pitcher Mark Buehrle and first baseman Paul Konerko.

In the supermarket recreation, a husband and wife use a grapefruit in lieu of a baseball, as the always colorful White Sox TV game announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson and Buehrle himself look on in awe.

Cage1.jpgJason Cage is joining CBS Radio Chicago's Top 40 WBBM-FM 96.3 as evening host starting Feb. 21. His show will air from 7 p.m. to midnight weekdays. Cage joins B96 from KLAL-FM in Little Rock, Ark. Previous to that, Cage handled nights at WZAT-FM in Savannah, Ga., and WZYP-FM in Huntsville, Al.

"We have been following Jason for some time and are excited to have him on-board," said Todd Cavanah, program director at WBBM-FM. "With his track record of success and exceptional ability to entertain, we are confident that Jason will become the next Chicago radio superstar," added Cavanah. "DUring my 10-year on-air career, the legendary B96 has always been on the top of my list of dream radio stations to work for," said Cage.

Cage replaces Jerzy, who will serve as the main talent in B96's newly-created in-school venture with Boom Entertainment, as well as weekend on-air talent and other shifts for the station.

Norm Yustin.jpgAs we first hinted here a number of weeks ago, Jamie King has indeed exited as president of Euro RSCG/Chicago. And as we had known for weeks, he isn't making Chicago his future main base of operations. Rather King has decamped to San Francisco, where he announced today he is joining forces with west coast-based creative Roger Camp to launch Camp + King, a boutique ad agency that will focus on creating "conversation-swell" for its clients. That's a phrase that is related to, but different than word-of-mouth advertising. Or so we've been told.

Havas, the same holding company that owns Euro RSCG, will have a minority stake in Camp + King, which will open its doors with at least two clients on the roster, Old Navy (a unit of the Gap) and Shaklee, plus project work for Yahoo!. Interestingly, Old Navy's chief marketing officer is now Amy Curtis-McIntyre, who not too long ago was marketing chief at Hyatt Hotels. Previous to that, she was briefly head of marketing for the Jimmy Johns sandwich chain, after she moved to the Chicago area from New York, where she was a key member of the Jet Blue marketing team. Curtis-McIntyre, one could say, does know how to get around.

Meanwhile, back at Euro RSCG, which has been going through a bit of a management shake-up recently, Norm Yustin becomes the new president replacing King. Yustin arrives at Euro RSCG from Claire's, a chain of stores offering fashion accessories for teens. Yustin was Claire's global chief marketing officer. Previous to that he was a senior account executive with Leo Burnett/Chicago.

"Norm really understands the future of our business and the importance of digital, social media and mobile to our clients," said Euro RSCG North American president Ron Bess. That all may be very well and good, but we also hope Yustin knows how to bring in boatloads of new business, because that's what Euro RSCG really needs right now.

Chips Ahoy screen grab.jpgChips Ahoy! will debut a new TV advertising campaign during the Super Bowl pre-game telecast on Sunday. The new campaign with the tagline "Crammed With Joy" marks the first work on the brand from McGarryBowen/Chicago, which was assigned the account in mid-2010. The "Cookie Guy" characters, which had been a centerpiece of the brand's advertising in recent years, are being retired. In their place, MB is introducing TV spots that demonstrate how Chips Ahoy! help bring joy to life.

The first spot debuting Sunday shows a friendly football game in which a bag of Chips Ahoy! replaces the football. The commercial, which has an unusual 3-D effect, is comprised of a series of freeze-frame moments that the camera pans across to build a sense of anticipation and drama. Live action kicks in only at the end of the spot. Like many Kraft Foods brands in recent months, Chips Ahoy! is seeking to contemporize its image -- a move that has helped to refresh several other familiar Kraft brands over the past couple of years.

Gross, Paterson, Cimino.jpgThere looks to be a bit of the back-to-the-future approach coming into play at DDB/Chicago, where chief creative officer Ewan Paterson has begun restructuring the agency's creative department. On Tuesday, as a blizzard headed for Chicago, Paterson said he is promoting both Bill Cimino and Mark Gross to the role of executive creative director, a new title at the agency. Gross and Cimino will report directly to Paterson.

It's no coincidence, we suspect, that Cimino and Gross are attached to two of the agency's biggest pieces of business -- Anheuser-Busch and McDonald's. Though the agency has had little luck attracting new accounts of that magnitude in recent years, it is essential to retain the ones that it does have if the agency has any hope of rebuilding its client roster.

Cimino joined DDB/Chicago in 1993, and was promoted to group creative director in 2006. He has worked closely on both the McDonald's and Bud Light business. Gross joined the agency in 1993 as an art director and worked his way up to group creative director, overseeing Bud Light, Bud Light Lime and Cars.com

It appears Paterson is attempting to revive the impressive creative spirit that dominated the agency throughout much of the 1980's and 1990's, but seemed to evaporate almost entirely over the past decade.

"Mark and Bill stand for everything that is great about DDB/Chicago, namely a belief in -- and ability to produce -- fantastic and talked about work," said Paterson. "Their promotion will allow them to have greater influence over the agency's work and future," added Paterson.

Chicagoans really care about the weather -- especially when a potentially historic blizzard is about to hit the city. Late news overnight ratings were unusually high for all late local newscasts Monday night, with the notable exception of Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32.

Top-rated ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 still bested all other stations with a whopping 11.2 rating (392,000 households), about two rating points higher than usual. But Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9's hour-long 9 p.m. newscast, which features popular meteorologist Tom Skilling in its weather reporting arsenal, was a close second with a 10.2 rating (357,000), nearly double what the station's average late news rating has been in recent weeks. The station has long considered Skilling a major draw, but no more so than now with the blizzard approaching. On Tuesday, the station's spokeswoman Diana Dionisio had even taken to reminding reporters that "we ARE weather to Chicago, after all."

Both NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5 and CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 also had considerably better-than-usual ratings success Monday, scoring 8.7 (304,500) and 8.0 (280,000) ratings respectively for their late newscasts. Only WFLD seemed unable to pull in any new viewers with the blizzard on the way. The station could only manage a 2.5 rating (87,500) for the night, about what it has been drawing in recent months.

scan0011.jpgCBS Radio Chicago WUSN-FM (99.5) midday personality Trish Biondo has been nominated for the Academy of Country Music Awards "Personality of the Year" award in the major markets category. Biondo has been with WUSn for 25 years and was recently signed to a new multi-year deal. The 46th annual ACM Awards show will be telecast on CBS on April 3, beginning at 7 p.m., from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

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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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