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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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Bernie's got a blog. Yes, up-to-the-minute Bernie DiMeo, who shut down his Chicago ad agency several months ago and recently started up a new public relations firm, has fully embraced 21st century forms of new media. But ironically enough, Bernie used the debut item on his new blog to mourn the passing of what he nostalgically refers to as the "good ole days."

For Bernie, those days invariably included long, alcohol-heavy lunches with reporters. For, you see, Bernie actually moved from public relations into advertising. And now he's back practicing what he got his start with in the communications biz. We can certainly sympathize with Bernie as he fondly recalls in his blog the days when lunch was where business got done.

PR practitioners back then would quickly deal go over the details of whatever they were trying to interest a reporter in writing about, promise it as an exclusive, and then get on with the serious business of enjoying lunch and cocktails. Another kind of world. Another time. And mostly likely, one we'll never see the likes of again. Yes, Bernie, those were indeed the good ole days.

He's back. And none too soon, if you ask us. Just weeks after shuttering his 22-year-old ad agency, DiMeo & Co./Chicago, Bernie DiMeo is going back to his roots in the communications world and launching a new public relations firm, Bernie DiMeo Communications. The firm's tag line (and with Bernie at the helm, how could it not have one?) is "Old Dog. New Tricks." By that, DiMeo intends to suggest that his new firm will combine the best of old school, traditional public relations practices with the potential and power of new media. "I may be an old dog, but I have learned some new tricks," said DiMeo.

We're sure he has learned plenty of tricks over the years, but most importantly, DiMeo understands the essence of public relations -- the ability to spot a good story and then sell it. If that means using a gimmick or two, then DiMeo will. He's smart that way. And it's what made watching and writing about his now-defunct ad agency so much fun for the past decade.

DiMeo and his new PR team, for now, intend to operate in a lean, low-overhead fashion. His team will forgo a traditional office space and work independently or collaboratively, depending on a project's needs. But DiMeo knows where he can find "office space" if he needs it. "We have about 50 satellite offices around the city, and they all have a liquor license," said DiMeo, who can do quips with the best of them.

He will start out with a small but wide-ranging roster of clients, including the Lake County Fielders baseball team; Gold Coast Tickets, the city's largest ticket brokerage; Phil Stefani Signature Restaurants and the ad agency ESW Partners/Chicago. "ESW is full-service in every way except for PR, so it's a good fit," said DiMeo.

The start-up team at BDC includes Robin Boesen, vice-president; Keith Romero, vice-president, strategic planning, and Nick Ulivieri, account executive overseeing new media. For more information on BDC, visit the newly-launched Web site, www.berniedimeo.com

DiMeo & Co./Chicago is shutting down

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Now we know things are really bad in the Chicago ad industry. Bernie DiMeo, one of the most colorful members of the local ad community for the past 22 years, said Monday he is in the process of shutting down his ad shop, DiMeo & Co./Chicago, which for most of last year employed a staff of 11. DiMeo said the revenue stream simply wasn't strong enough to justify carrying on. "Things hadn't been good for a while," said DiMeo.

The biggest blow apparently came about 16 months ago with the loss of the local Popeyes restaurant co-op account. Though there had been the occasional new business win since then, they weren't enough to make up for a big loss. For the past 16 years, DiMeo also was the agency of record for the Chicago Bulls. Steve Schanwald, executive vice-president, business operations for the Bulls, said that in the short term, the plan is keep the Bulls advertising account in-house. "Long term, we'll see," added Schanwald.

DiMeo said he expects to remain connected to the advertising and public relations industries in some fashion, but he is still sorting out what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. "I should know in about 60 days," he said. In the heyday of DiMeo & Co., no adman embodied the fun spirit of the good ol' days more than Bernie DiMeo. He knew a good party when he threw one, and he was as adept at self-promotion as he was at the art and craft of promoting clients.

But in the end, all the fun stuff couldn't pay the bills. We doubt anyone will come along anytime soon that can match Bernie's joie de vivre. A loss indeed.

Veteran ad man Bernie DiMeo of DiMeo & Co./Chicago doesn't like to lose a piece of business. But that is what has happened. Turano Baking Co. has parted ways with DiMeo, ending a nine-year relationship.

After an agency review in which DiMeo participated, Turano has selected the Jacobs Agency/Chicago as its new agency of record. Jourdan Huys an assistant account executive at Jacobs, said Turano's new agency will develop a comprehensive marketing campaign for the local baking company over the next several months. The new campaign will help build brand awareness among Chicago area consumers, as well as interested trade audiences. DiMeo told us he hated to lose the business, but a change in top management at the baking concern apparently prompted the agency review and the subsequent selection of Jacobs.

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Bernie's found some new business. The times, as we all know, ain't what they were in the Chicago ad industry. Still, stalwart ad man Bernie Dimeo of DiMeo & Co./Chicago has found a piece of new business in downstate Carbondale, of all places. DiMeo & Co. has been awarded a five-year contract to provide marketing and public relations services for Southern Illinois University/Carbondale's Department of Event Services, perhaps best known for its Southern Lights Entertainment performance series.

Southern Lights Entertainment presents approximately 10 to 20 performances a year featuring artists such as Lily Tomlin, Crystal Gayle, B.B. King and others. "As a proud alum of SIU, I'm thrilled to be returning to campus for the first time in . . .well a lot of years," said DiMeo. It's also good to know the alma mater is good for some new business as well as a degree, right Bernie?

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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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