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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Recently in Bob Lachky Category

Lachky_Bob_hires.jpgBob Lachky, the man who for many years was in charge of orchestrating brewery giant Anheuser-Busch's advertising image, now has a new Chicago connection. He's signed on as a senior advisor at Chicago-based rEvolution, a sports marketing and media services agency.

A rEvolution spokesman said Lachky will not be a full-time employee, but will work with agency president John Rowady in a consultant capacity to determine how best to position the rEvolution shop going forward. For now, Lachky will remain based in St. Louis, where he is also working with stock brokerage company Scottrade on its advertising initiatives.

Rowady apparently likes what Lachky brings to the table for rEvolution. "Having managed the relationship with a variety of agencies at Anheuser-Busch, he (Lachky) brings to our team unique insight into what makes a great agency in today's changing marketplace," said Rowady. For his part, Lachky said of his new assignment: "I'm excited about the opportunity to work with John and his team as we both are major proponents of driving creative messaging through a larger set of communication channels." Lachky is no stranger to Chicago. He was an executive with DDB/Chicago prior to joining A-B.

rEvolution clients include ESPN, Target and Red Bull energy drink.

Lachky, Bob.jpgThe other shoe just dropped.

In a move that is sure to reverberate in the worst way throughout the offices of beleaguered DBB/Chicago, Bob Lachky said today that he is leaving his post as chief creative officer at Anheuser-Busch at the end of February, bringing to an end a 20-year stint at America's most prominent brewery. In an interview Tuesday, Lachky said he is still mulling what he wants to do next, but his job of overseeing creative development of advertising for A-B's portfolio of beer brands will not be filled. Instead, that job will be shared by several people in A-B's revamped marketing department, including Vice President, Marketing Keith Levy; Vice President, Trademark Brands Gregg Billmeyer, and Vice President Import, Craft & Specialty Group Andy Goeler.

Lachky's exit comes just a week after the 2009 Super Bowl, where for the first time in a while, none of the seven commercials A-B telecast during the game won USA Today's much-referenced Ad Meter popularity contest. Six of the seven spots that A-B debuted during the game were created by DDB, where Lachky was an account executive for six years before jumping to A-B.

With Lachky's A-B job now being decentralized, it remains to be seen how DDB's relationship with A-B will play out. Because of Lachky's previous ties to DDB, many observers have long maintained he heavily favored the Chicago shop, even though much of its creative for Budweiser and Bud Light hasn't been especially fresh or attention-grabbing the past several years. And the agency failed to make A-B's hugely expensive online venture a must-visit destination.

With A-B now under InBev's control, the Belgium-based brewing giant may decide it wants to shake up the St. Louis brewery's agency roster, which also includes Cannonball in St. Louis, LatinWorks in Austin, Tex., and Euro RSCG in Chicago. The exit of Lachky paves the way for that possible eventuality. But on Tuesday, Lachky and others at the brewery insisted DDB is still the lead agency and would continue in that role for the foreseeable future. If DDB were to hold on to some or all of its A-B business, InBev, which is known for running a tight ship, could also try to get more work out of the agency for less money.

But even as DDB's relationship with A-B is taking a potentially disturbing turn, much more remains unsettled within DDB, where a year after the suicide of creative leader Paul Tilley, agency leader Rick Carpenter has yet to name a new chief creative officer. Sources say the funds needed to cover the salary of a new creative honcho have been tied up in payments to Tilley's widow over the past year.

Lachky's departure also comes just a month after the abrupt retirement of another powerful A-B marketing executive Tony Ponturo. As recently as last fall, trade publication Advertising Age indicated Anheuser-Busch's top marketing executives had been resigned by InBev and were paid bonuses to continue on with the company. But obviously, things have changed at A-B.

Circus (Budweiser).jpegBarring an unexpected last minute change of heart, Anheuser-Busch's lineup of seven Super Bowl commercials is set and ready to go. In a follow-up conference call Tuesday with the media, A-B creative honcho Bob Lachky laid out the final selection of seven commercials totalling 4 minutes, 30 seconds of airtime. All but one of the spots were developed by DDB/Chicago. A seventh spot called "Generations," which talks about how the iconic Clydesdales made it to America, comes from the Waylon agency in St. Louis. A-B's Super Bowl mix includes two 60-second spots and five 30-second commercial.

Interestingly, the partial lineup of commercials Lachky unveiled a couple of weeks ago did not include a Bud Light spot called "Meeting," but it is now in the mix and slotted in the key post-kick-off slot. Though it is part of the new "Drinkability" campaign, "Meeting" looks and feels a lot more like one of the old-fashioned Bud Light spots, with a very blunt visual gag at the end. It's the kind of spot that doesn't require a lot of thought or reaction time. And it's not subtle, but that's pretty much what made most of the so-called old-fashioned Bud Light work so popular with Super Bowl viewers and others.

The "Generations" Clydesdale spot that is now solidly in the Super Bowl lineup has some nicely-wrought ad copy in it, but not all the efforts at visual humor work as well as they could. Hard to say whether "Generations" or "Circus," which recounts a Clydesdale romance in somewhat epic fashion, will prove the more popular of the three Clydesdale spots in the Super Bowl mix. For our money, however, the Bud Light spot with Conan O'Brien still is the best all-around Anheuser-Busch effort in this year's Super Bowl.



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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