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

March 2011 Archives

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will broadcast 80 regular season games played by the Chicago Cubs during the 2011 season. The first will be on Apr. 2, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

New enhancements to Comcast SportsNet game telecasts this year include a new HD technology that is capable of showing slow-motion replays of over 2,000 frames per second.

Fans will also be able to watch "Pitch Trax," a technology that animates the precise pitch location throughout each game in a variety of angles. Pitch Trax will be available for every game that CSNC broadcasts.

Other enhancements being made this season to Cubs broadcasts include an all-new graphics package and scoring data that features real time stats in a variety of key categories.

AB1_2654 - Version 2.jpgKnow your target audience. That's important when marketing a show. "Working," a Broadway in Chicago presentation of a musical based on a book with the same name by the late Pulitzer Prize-winning Chicago author Studs Terkel, certainly considers the working men and women of Chicago a key audience because this is a show, after all, about working people. A broad cross-section of workers, ranging from a housewife to a waitress to a hooker (yes, they work too), raise their voices in compelling song to tell of their lives as everyday workers

So to help attract more of that audience that should feel a natural connection to the theme of the musical, the producers of "Working" have unveiled a promotion aimed directly at that significant group of people who belong to labor unions in Chicago.

Beginning today, workers with a union card will get 20 percent off tickets for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening performances when ordering at the box office, on the phone or online with the code "union." All those taking advantage of the discount should be prepared to present their union cards when arriving to see the show at the Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place.

WFMT-FM (98.7) and WBEZ-FM (91.5), two Chicago radio stations that take in a significant part of their respective operating budgets from listener contributions, have both met or exceeded their fund raising goals in just-completed pledge drives.

Fine arts station WFMT set a goal of $525,000 for its recently-completed 10-day winter pledge drive, and it reached that goal on the 10th day with some 8 1/2 hours to spare before the drive was set to end.

During an eight-day pledge drive that ended Mar. 10, public radio station WBEZ secured 9,198 donations that generated revenue of $1.12 million, well above the $1 million set for the drive. The successful pledge drives at both stations suggest the public appears to be in more of a giving mood as the economy starts to turn around.

Still, WFMT used all kinds of inducements to get listeners to pledge funds. Among other things the station experimented with a "$50,000 by mid-day" strategy. The station promised to break from fund raising for the rest of one day if it could raise $50,000 by 1 p.m., which it did. And the audience for WFMT's "The Midnight Special" once again proved especially generous. They contributed five percent of the station's total fund raising goal in just four hours.

At WBEZ, 44 percent of the donors during the just-completed drive were new members to the station, a number that is typically closer to 20 to 30 percent. The monies raised at WBEZ represent about 5.6 percent of the station's total operating budget.

David Kimbell has been named vice-president of marketing at Chicago-based U.S. Cellular. He will be responsible for the development of strategic branding and communications initiatives that drive customer growth and loyalty, including the Belief Project. The company's marketing, customer strategy, brand and media relations teams report to Kimbell.

Kimbell most recently served as chief marketing officer and senior vice-president at Seventh Generation, an environmentally-friendly household products company. Prior to that he held positions within PepsiCo, including vice-president of marketing for the Quaker Foods division. Kimbell's "experience of connecting consumer insights with superior customer service and strong leadership skills make him a perfect fit for our organization," said U.S. Cellular executive vice-president of operations Alan D. Ferber.

Douglas Fir.jpgWell we went, and we experienced the 2011 Chicago Addy Awards reception at Resolution Digital Studios on the city's west side. But before we offer a few observations about the experience itself, we must report the big news: Leo Burnett walked off with the Best of Show Award for its "Mayhem" television campaign for Allstate Insurance.

The top award winner came as no surprise, really. The pre-reception buzz suggested the campaign was headed for the winner's circle. We personally have not been among its biggest fans, as scare-tactic advertising just doesn't work so well for us. But it is certainly a well-produced and well-acted effort, and we can see how others might have fancied it a winner.

What of the awards reception itself? Well, it made manifest what was most obvious about the outcome of this Chicago Addy competition -- the first of its sort in nearly a decade. Though there were said to be 400 entries overall in a multitude of categories, what seemed apparent Thursday night was that Leo Burnett and its Arc arm picked up an alarmingly large number of the awards.

There was some (quiet) grousing among those in attendance about Burnett's dominance, but for better or for worse, that's the way the judges saw it. Of course the outcome may have had something to do with the number of agencies that chose to participate. As always, the cost of entering was a consideration that ultimately kept some shops from participating as fully as they might have wished.

As for the reception itself, we liked it. Yes, the number of people in attendance seemed on the low side, but that, quite frankly, made it a much more pleasant experience for those who were there. The spacious warehouse environment was surprisingly warm and inviting, and the decibel level was sufficiently low to allow for actual conversation -- a huge plus from our vantage point.

From talking to the executives in charge of the evening we gathered that this Addys format will be the template for a local awards show for the foreseeable future, unless some group comes up with a better idea that is fundable and can be executed without undue complication.

We'll say this much for the folks that put on this 2011 Chicago Addy Awards event. They actually did an awards event, and they kept the focus exactly where it should be -- on the work and a simple, unfussy reception to honor the winners and celebrate the Chicago advertising community.

The battle for the $1 billion S.C. Johnson advertising account -- one of the most hotly-contested and closely-watched agency reviews of the new decade -- is moving along.

Sources now tell us the agencies in serious contention for the $1 billion S.C. Johnson account now housed at DraftFCB/Chicago may have been whittled down to no more than five. And (drum roll) they are said to be (in alphabetical order): incumbent DraftFCB; McGarryBowen; Ogilvy & Mather, TBWA/Chiat/Day, and Young & Rubicam.

David Beals at R3:JLB/Chicago, which is orchestrating the review in conjunction with S.C. Johnson executives, declined comment. But sources say S.C. Johnson wants to make a decision by the start of its next fiscal year in July. Or preferably several weeks earlier.

The winner, of course, will need to have some global heft to service such a huge account in all markets where it must be serviced. And any of the aforementioned shops certainly would have the necessary resources at their disposal to handle the S.C. Johnson business globally.

But our sources say McGarryBowen, which has had huge success courting Kraft Foods accounts in recent years, just may have an edge. Sources say Mark Modesto, ousted abruptly from DraftFCB last summer, has been reaching out to McGarryBowen, which could possibly be interested in his services once his non-compete clause with DraftFCB expires. Modesto could be key in deciding how this review plays out because he is said to still be very close to key members of the Johnson family that control the giant household products company.

And though McGarryBowen itself does not have a huge international network, it is now part of Dentsu, which is well-established internationally.

More on the new project front at Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32. Sources tell us it looks as if an early evening weekday newscast at the station will continue to remain on hold for the foreseeable future. What is more likely to debut in the near future, however, is a weekend morning news product that mirrors those on other local stations such as ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.

The added weekend package would give the station a chance to say it is expanding news coverage without risking the loss of advertising income it receives from syndicated programming that now airs when an early evening newscast might on weekdays. Sources say Anita Padilla most likely would anchor the weekend morning news product and recently-arrived Tammie Souza would handle weather. A WFLD spokeswoman, however, said she knew of no weekend morning news in the works.

At 1:04 p.m. Monday, CBS Radio Chicago's WJMK-FM (104.3) will switch to format featuring classic hits from the 1960's, '70's and '80's that management believes will improve the station's fortunes in the Arbitron ratings. The new format replaces an adult hits format that had been in place since 2005.

Well-known Chicago radio personalities Ed Volkman and Joe Bohannon are returning to the CBS Radio Chicago fold to anchor WJMK's new morning show from 5:30 to 10 a.m.
Eddie and Jobo, as they are more familiarly known, were famously dumped from CBS Radio Chicago's Top 40 WBBM-FM (96.3) three years ago to cut costs when the economic downturn hit the radio industry hard. The duo also had outgrown B-96's 18 to 34-year-old core audience demo.

At the time of their exit from B-96, Volkman and Bohannon were part of the city's elite corps of so-called "million dollar mouths" -- on-air talent that earned a million dollars or more a year for their services.

CBS Radio Chicago market manager Rod Zimmerman wouldn't discuss terms of WJMK's deal with Volkman and Bohannon, but their new salaries are believed to be considerably less than a million dollars a year.

Joining Eddie and Jobo at the newly-formatted WJMK will be Bo Reynolds, another former WBBM-FM jock who had a show there from 1987 to 1990. Reynolds will anchor afternoon drive from 3 p.m to 8 p.m.

Yet another WBBM-FM alumnus, Gary Spears will host mid-days on the new WJMK from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting March 21. Broadway Bill Lee, a talent from New York, will fill in until Spears starts. Spears was on air at B96 from 1982 to 1984 and again from 1990 to 1994. Zimmerman said another host will be named soon to anchor WJMK's evening show starting at 8 p.m.

Zimmerman said the new format will be "high energy, music intensive and locally driven." Added Zimmerman: "The CBS Radio network is very familiar with this format, and we have had a lot of success it in other markets."

Speaking as one, Eddie and Jobo said of their new gig in a statement: "To be rookies again, starting on a brand new radio station in our hometown is, well who said 'you can't go home?'."

Everybody ready to party? After a select committee spent more than a year supposedly trying to figure out what kind of awards show Chicago's ad industry should have, it probably surprises no one that, for now, it's going to be the tried-and-true Addy Awards format.

The Chicago Addy Awards reception is set for Thursday from 6 to 10 p.m. at Resolution Digital Studios, 2226 W. Walnut in Chicago. Organizers of the event tell us agencies submitted some 400 pieces of work for consideration, of which 92 were honored with awards. But there will be no lengthy awards ceremony tomorrow. Only the Best of Show Award will be handed out live at the reception, so everyone can focus on admiring the work and enjoying themselves.

The return to an Addy Awards format is a curious turn of events at the very least. Armchair historians may recall that discontent with the stodgy Addys was what prompted local advertising honchos to rethink things several years ago. That rethink initially led to the debut of the Chicago Creative Club Awards and the infamous bricks (creativity, you know) that were handed out. But as the Chicago ad industry started to falter, and more agencies began fighting to stay afloat, the CCC event became harder to pull off.

Finally it fell apart, even as a few brave souls tried to maintain some kind of awards show. But nothing stuck. Now the Chicago Advertising Federation, sensing nothing was in the works to replace the Chicago Creative Club concept, fell back on the familiar Addy Awards. Maybe it's all for the best. We'll know more when we see how things go Thursday. See you there.

It's official. Rafer Weigel will become the new weekend sports anchor and reporter at top-rated WLS-Channel 7, effective March 21. He replaces Ryan Chiaverini who was recently named co-host of Channel 7's new live morning show "Windy City Live."

Rafer Weigel, 41, is the son of the late Tim Weigel, who was a TV sports anchor and reporter and newspaper sports writer for many years in Chicago. Tim Weigel spent 17 years as a sports anchor and reporter at Channel 7.

WLS news director Jennifer Graves called Rafer Weigel a "talented broadcaster who has worked hard to earn his stripes." She also said Weigel "loves this city and has never lost his passion for following Chicago sports teams."

Most recently, Weigel was a sports anchor on CNN HLN in 2008.

The departures just keep on coming at DraftFCB/Chicago. First there was Mark Modesto. Then Karen Sauder. Now DraftFCB has told its staff chief creative officer Rob Sherlock will soon be exiting the Chicago office to take a role elsewhere in the DraftFCB international network. But Sherlock will stay on at least for a while in some sort of transitional mode as the shop searches for his successor.

While it may be viewed as coincidental by some, it can't be much of a coincidence that Sherlock is exiting as DraftFCB faces what may be the challenge of its life trying to hold on to the $1 billion S.C. Johnson account. Though many observers assume the huge piece of business is all but gone already, DraftFCB folks perhaps can be forgiven for thinking they can hold on to it.

It's possible the agency may land a hotshot creative talent to replace Sherlock. But whatever Sherlock may have done to help DraftFCB's fortunes since he arrived in 2007, he, alas, hasn't given the agency a high-profile creative reputation. Or much of a creative reputation of any sort, actually. That could be problematic if the agency hopes to attract a top-notch creative leader who could give the shop a fighting chance to retain the S.C. Johnson business.

Joe Schmitt has joined Tom, Dick & Harry/Chicago as director of digital strategy. Schmitt, who joins TD&H on March 14, most recently oversaw digital strategy at Burrell Advertising/Chicago. At Burrell he worked on Toyota, McDonald's, General Mills, American Airlines and Procter & Gamble brands.

In 2009, Schmitt won a national Shorty Award nomination for humor for his Tweets. A self-taught, code-level digital programmer, Schmitt is a University of Chicago graduate.

Schmitt will succeed Stephen Para, who spend a month in Thailand recently after departing the agency. He is now working on a documentary about his experiences there and guest lecturing at Roosevelt University about them impact of social media on the revolutions that have recently shook the Middle East.

It's official. Mike Leiderman has been named executive producer of Fox-owned WFLD-Channel 32's hour-long 9 p.m. newscast, which despite more than 18 months of revamping, remains in last place in the late news ratings race in the Chicago market.

Most recently Leiderman ran his own production company Leiderman Productions. Prior to that he held positions with Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Leiderman also was the executive producer of WTTW-Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight," during the time when WFLD late news co-anchor Bob Sirott was a host of that news and features show.

Sources say Leiderman was Sirott's choice to oversee WFLD's late newscast. But it remains to be seen whether Leiderman will push the WFLD newscast in the direction of longer, more in-depth segments or opt to quicken the pace of the show. Leiderman comes on board on March 14th.

Also, WFLD is bringing on board Phil Landeros as executive producer of its weekend evening newscast. Landeros comes to WFLD from the CBS station in Tampa, Fla. His first day in the new job will be March 21st.

headshot.jpgAs part of the ongoing effort to turn around DDB/Chicago, the agency is bringing in Jonathan Sackett as chief digital officer and managing director, a new position at the shop. Sackett previously was chief digital officer at the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va.

In his new role at DDB, Sackett will lead the charge to develop the shop's digital capabilities, an area in which the agency is viewed as a laggard by some observers. "I've always known DDB to possess lightning in a bottle," said Sackett. "And we're going to build on the great digital work I've seen from DDB to release that lightning," added Sackett. "This new senior leadership position is more than a traditional CDO -- it's designed to ensure that we bring the latest innovations and technologies to all our client solutions," explained Mark O'Brien, president of DDB North America.

DDB management obviously hopes Sackett will be a huge help in revamping and enhancing the shop's image, which has taken a big hit in recent years. "In the last few months, we've taken major steps towards transforming this agency into the creative shop Ewan (Paterson) and I want it to be," added O'Brien.

In the past, however, DDB has not always had great luck holding on to hotshot talent from hotshot shops in other markets. In 2005, David Rolfe joined DDB from Crispin Porter + Bogusky as director of branded production. Rolfe's tenure was relatively brief before he abruptly decided to return to Crispin.

weigel.rafer.jpgRafer Weigel, son of the late Tim Weigel, a prominent Chicago TV sports anchor and newspaper reporter for many years, may become the new weekend sports anchor at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. He would replace Ryan Chiaverini, recently tapped along with Valerie Warner to co-host WLS's new live morning talk show "Windy City Live," slated to debut after the 25th and final season of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" ends in late May.

A Channel 7 spokeswoman declined comment on a report of Weigel's imminent hiring that first surfaced on an industry trade website NewsBlues.com. WLS general manager Emily Barr also declined comment.

Rafer Weigel, 41, has been the sports anchor for the past three years on cable news channel HLN's "Morning Express with Robin Meade." Coincidentally, Weigel also had been a candidate to host WLS's new live morning show, until he bowed out of the competition, indicating he wanted to continue with his job at HLN.

Weigel grew up in Evanston, and attended Evanston Township High School and the University of Illinois, where he earned a degree in theater. He started out as an actor in Chicago theater, but then moved on to Hollywood where he had some success, including a recurring role on the NBC series "Jenny" and several movie parts -- among them a role in the movie "Rated X" about the porn industry.

Rafer Weigel returned to Chicago after his father's death from a brain tumor in 2001, and began a career in journalism writing about sports for the Sun-Times as a freelancer and doing a show called "Celebrity Rock" on WCKG-FM, now known as WCFS-FM.

Weigel returned to the west coast in 2005 to work in TV, first as freelance reporter in San Diego and then full-time general assignment reporter in Sacramento, before joining HLN in 2008.

Is Jonathan Harries on his way out as global chief creative officer at DraftFCB? Rumors swirled this week to that effect.

One scenario had him joining forces at some yet-to-be-determined shop with ousted DraftFCB leader Mark Modesto, who has been keeping a low profile since he abruptly exited DraftFCB last summer. According to one source, Modesto had a one-year non-compete clause in his contract with DraftFCB, which could put him back in business at another agency in about six months.

A DraftFCB spokesman, however, emphatically rebuffed the rumors about Harries. "Jonathan isn't going anywhere," said the spokesman, who indicated Harries has been spending considerable time in Europe recently, overseeing the $700 million global Beiersdorf account DraftFCB recently won.

Nivea, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month, is a flagship product line at Beiersdorf. The Hamburg, Germany-based company said today that global music icon Rihanna will serves as the voice of the 100th birthday celebration for Nivea.

The Beiersdorf win is a welcome piece of new business for DraftFCB, as the agency tries to hold on to the $1 billion S.C. Johnson account, which is now in review.

ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7's new live morning show has its co-hosts. Now it has a name -- "Windy City Live." The show will replace "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in the 9 a.m. time slot on Channel 7 when Winfrey completes her 25th and final season of the show in late May.

"Windy City Live" will be broadcast live from the Channel 7 studios in the loop in front of a studio audience. Ryan Chiaverini, WLS's current weekend sports anchor, and Valerie Warner, a morning show co-host and traffic reporter at Tribune Co.-owned WGN-Channel 9, were selected from among scores of candidates to co-host "Windy City Live."

unitedAd.jpgA golden age in the annals of airline advertising officially ended Tuesday when the merged United Airlines unveiled its first ad campaign from Kaplan Thaler/New York ad agency, best known for creating the iconic Aflac duck.

United's new campaign, the first to reflect last fall's joining of United with Continental Airlines, does away with the elegant, illustration-centric print ads and television commercials that for the past four years were a hallmark of the United advertising created by the Minneapolis boutique shop Barrie, D'Rozario Murphy.

Those print ads and story-driven commercials were always smart and sophisticated -- the finest examples of airline advertising since the landmark "World's Favorite Airline" campaigns for British Airways from Saatchi & Saatchi/London in the late 1980's."

United's ads from BDM helped elevate the carrier's image even as the airline was struggling to right itself after a difficult bankruptcy filing. Barrie D'Rozario Murphy will continue to work on marketing projects for United, but it will not be the lead ad agency.

The new United advertising just now breaking incorporates much of the imagery associated with previous Continental campaigns, which have been handled for many years by Kaplan Thaler. It is certainly a functional campaign, if not hugely creative.

The dominant graphic in the print ads and billboards is the stylized globe seen in countless Continental ads and on the tail of the carrier's aircraft. New TV ads aren't expected over the next 12 months, though United senior vice-president of marketing Mark Bergsrud said it's possible a couple of existing Continental TV ads could be adapted for use over the next year.

The first series of print ads breaking later this month focus -- with a bit of humor -- on specific product benefits of the combined carriers, including an expanded route system, a roomier Economy Plus seating section and the DirecTV available on select Continental aircraft. The new prints ads carry no tagline, and one probably won't be added until an agency review is completed this summer. Continental's advertising tagline was "Work Hard. Fly Right," while United used "It's Time To Fly."

Bergsrud said Kaplan Thaler will be invited to pitch the United account this summer, along with several yet-to-be-selected shops. It's not known yet whether BDM will participate in the review.

The new United campaign is expected to be in place for about a year. In conjunction with the current advertising rollout, United also is dropping all BDM illustrations from its website and replacing them with photographs.

United's inflight magazine, Hemispheres, also is switching to cover photographs instead of illustrations. Continental dropped its inflight magazine and replaced it with Hemispheres last month.

Can it be? A ray of light after years of darkness. Yes, we hear that DDB/Chicago has been awarded the Sierra Mist account after it was put in review earlier this year. Goodby Silverstein & Partners/San Francisco had handled the account since 2009.

Sierra Mist parent PepsiCo has shifted agencies on a number of brands in recent years for reasons that were not always readily apparent. Sierra Mist is believed to be DDB's first major account win in several years. An agency spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

The win comes some nine months after Ewan Paterson came on board as the agency's chief creative officer, and three months after Rick Carpenter exited as CEO. It's only one win, but at least it re-establishes DDB as an agency that can bring in new business, something we weren't entirely sure it could still do.

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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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This page is an archive of entries from March 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2011 is the previous archive.

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