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Spokeswoman Cathy Carl exits DDB

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Just when DDB/Chicago would appear to need it the most, the agency's public relations department is in shambles. Amy Cheronis, the long-time public relations maven at the shop, defected to Leo Burnett last month -- sparking rumbles that she, as a well-connected, high-level insider, knew enough about where things were headed at DDB, to get out before the ship had completely sunk.

In the wake of Cheronis's sudden departure, Cathy Carl was named to succeed Cheronis, who had orchestrated public relations not only for Chicago but the rest of DDB's American outposts. But sources now say that after only a few weeks on the job, Carl, who was based in DDB's Seattle office, has exited the agency as well. A call to Carl's cell phone was not returned.

It's official. Now that Amy Cheronis has left her position as chief PR spokeswoman for DDB's United States operations, Cathy Carl will take over those responsibilities. In recent years, Carl said she has reported to -- and worked with -- Cheronis to orchestrate the agency's public relations efforts domestically. Carl is based out of DDB's Seattle office, where clients include Microsoft. But Carl said she will be traveling more as she takes on a more active role orchestrating DDB's public relations through the United States. She plans to be in Chicago next week to begin to develop her game plan here. Two staffers who had worked with Cheronis on public relations in the Chicago shop will carry on in their jobs for now, Carl said. Carl declined comment on how her approach would differ from that of Cheronis, who seemed to be trying to maintain a low profile for DDB's Chicago office. "I don't feel comfortable talking about that now," she said.

cheronis_amy.jpgIt's official. PR maven Amy Cheronis has severed her ties with DDB/Chicago and joined the public relations team at Leo Burnett, where, starting Jan. 11, she will have the title of senior vice-president, director, worldwide communications. Joining her on the PR team at Burnett will be Patti Temple Rocks, who will have the title of executive vice-president and global director of corporate communications. Temple Rocks will be responsible for strategic leadership of internal and external communications for Burnett, and Cheronis will report to her. Temple Rocks first day on the job is Jan. 19.

Temple Rocks, 50, formerly served as vice-president, global public affairs and reputation at the Dow Chemical Co., where she led a global communications team of over 300 employees in 28 countries. Previous to Dow Chemical, Temple Rocks was a longtime senior leader at the Golin-Harris PR firm in Chicago, where she oversaw McDonald's, Levi Strauss and other clients. Burnett President Rich Stoddart said Temple Rocks has led "communications efforts for some of the world's most iconic brands with vision and creative flair."

But Temple Rocks skills notwithstanding, the more interesting part of the new Burnett PR equation may be Cheronis, 39, who previously worked at Burnett in PR before moving to beleaguered DDB/Chicago to run the public relations effort there. After so much tumult in the executive offices and down in the ranks at DDB in recent years, many suspect survivor Cheronis's influence within the shop stretched well beyond her public relations department.

But it's worth noting that she is abandoning DDB at a very critical moment for the shop -- the lead-up to the Super Bowl and Anheuser-Busch's presumed big splash on the big game telecast. But now that A-B has a new owner, many in the ad biz are wondering whether the splash will indeed be as big as it has been in the past. And there's also the lingering question of what relationship Anheuser-Busch InBev will have with DDB going forward.
Perhaps, looking at all the variables clouding DDB's future, Cheronis decided it would be best to cast her net with Burnett. In any event, lots to watch and wonder about as Cheronis sets sail for Burnett and DDB/Chicago churns toward the Super Bowl.

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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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