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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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Early today Southwest Airlines announced its intention to acquire low-fare competitor AirTran Airways. That news, understandably, wasn't a cause for great rejoicing around the offices of Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago, which has had the AirTran ad account for 12 years.

Though the acquisition deal is far from done and probably won't be finalized until sometime next year, it's unlikely Southwest will allow AirTran -- and all the benefits it will bring to the acquiring carrier -- to slip from its grasp, as did Frontier Airlines when Southwest tried to acquire it recently.

Southwest mostly likely will continue to rely on its longtime principal ad agency GSD&M Idea City in Austin, Tex. for its advertising needs, which are considerable. Southwest has been especially aggressive when it comes to advertising both its low fares and its "bags fly free" policy.

Should C-K lose its AirTran business, an agency spokesman said the agency's airline experience should enable it to aggressively compete for another airline account -- if a carrier should be looking for a new agency.

A bittersweet historical side note: Cramer-Krasselt once worked with Southwest. The C-K spokeswoman said the agency for eight years handled advertising in markets where Southwest was introducing new service.

MomentsFindYourBeach.jpgFor the longest while, the Corona Extra advertising mindset centered on a beach -- ideally one that is wonderfully idyllic. But that long-held concept is about to, if not change, at least expand. A new spot from Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago set to break on Sunday includes footage of other inviting locales ranging from the mountains to a New York City rooftop. The new spot comes with a new tagline "Find Your Beach," a suggestion that a Corona "beach" can be anywhere one can successfully conjure that peaceful mindset associated for so long with the imported Mexican brew.

The music used in the new spot called "Moments" is a song called "The Secret Sun" by Grammy-winning songwriter Jesse Harris, who has worked with Norah Jones, among others.

Final CX Blackhawks_For PR.jpgWhen you're a winner, everyone wants to get in on the action. Corona, another popular Mexican brew that is big in Chicago and throughout the United States, is sending its congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks who just won the Stanley Cup.

The salute comes via a new print ad that -- in Corona's familiar, understated way -- simply congratulates the Hawks on their hard-earned victory. The ad execution -- featuring the Corona bottle and lime slice on an inviting beach landscape that is so much a part of Corona's iconic advertising imagery -- is the handiwork of Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago. The ad will appear in select print publications.

Is Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago about to lose one of its big pharmaceutical accounts? A source familiar with the situation said the Rozerem account may be about to exit the agency. Rozerem is a drug similar to Ambien that is used to treat insomnia.

A C-K spokeswoman said she had no indication the Rozerem business was about to leave the shop, but she did indicate the account has been dormant at the agency for the past two years -- meaning no new advertising for the brand has been done during that time.

Cramer-Krasselt has had the Rozerem business since 2005. The C-K spokeswoman said no creative teams are currently assigned exclusively to the Rozerem business. But a source said that if Rozerem were to depart the agency, there might be layoffs. A Rozerem spokeswoman said she knew of no immediate plans to move the account. But she acknowledged that the C-K account is dormant and that there are no plans at present to do any consumer-focused advertising.

Kevin Flatt.jpgAfter a year-long search, Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago finally has a new executive creative director, Kevin Flatt, 40. He starts his new job June 1. Most recently, Flatt was an executive creative director at Leo Burnett and Arc North America, where he was the digital practice lead. Clearly, C-K, like so many other shops of late, has signaled with the selection of Flatt that it believes digital will be a key aspect of any agency that hopes to survive and prosper in years to come.

"We're already a very good digital shop, and we've been steadily adding talent and resources as part of our aspiration to be one of the best," said Marshall Ross, chief creative officer at C-K. Of course Ross's comments and the selection of Flatt beg the question of whether this kind of creative talent and a major emphasis on this part of the total marketing effort will combine to give C-K a creative profile that is more capable of attracting the best clients as they seek new agency partners.

Flatt's most significant claim to fame as an ad creative, it would appear, is his involvement in the development of the BMW Films at Fallon/Minneapolis. At the time of their release several years ago, these films garnered considerable attention and were seen as a sign of how important efforts in the digital world could be in brand marketing. Now, of course, those films seem painfully old hat in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world that is the advertising business today.

Yoga.jpgCrocs, the distinctive footwear made of a substance called Croslite, launches its first global marketing campaign from Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago this week -- timed to coincide with the debut of the brand's spring and summer shoe line for women, men and children.

Perhaps deemed a fad when the brand debuted several years ago, Crocs now appears to be intent on sticking around for the long haul. "Our new campaign will reinforce what Crocs really stands for -- cheeky innovation in the form of a feather-light, odor-resistant, form-to-fit shoe," said Ken Chaplin, vice president of marketing for Crocs.

The tagline for the new ad campaign is "Feel the Love," and C-K seems to be going for a bit of a warm and fuzzy feel in the new advertising. Without getting too warm and fuzzy, mind you. There also a new character called Croslite who will be woven into the campaign. We'll have more to say about the work in next Monday's ad column.

Cramer-Krasselt has promoted Karen Seamen, 53, to the new post of chief operating officer. Throughout her 21-year career with C-K, Seamen has been instrumental in the development and evolution of the agency's integrated model spanning advertising, media, interactive and engagement strategies. She was elevated to general manager of C-K's Chicago office in 2006, and has helped drive the agency's new business development.

Peter Krivkovich, C-K CEO and president, said Seamen will promote collaboration among C-K's four offices and help put the agency on the path to becoming the nation's largest independent ad agency. It is currently in second place. Seamen also will continue in her role as general manager of C-K/Chicago.

With a simple "Bye, America!" former hotshot Chicago-based creative Scott Wild emailed to tell us he was leaving this country to take a new job as an executive creative director at Advantage Marketing in Cairo, Egypt. And you thought someone like Wild would settle for something simple and obvious like a job with a New York or west coast shop? No way.

When the news from Wild reached us this morning, our mind flashed back eight years or so to a time when he arrived at Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago and immediately started shaking things up at what had been -- relatively speaking -- a fairly quiet agency. Wild was put on the the LaSalle Bank (now folded into Bank of America) account, and he wasted no time shaking up the advertising for that staid financial institution. A lot of it was wacky work, but, in a surprising way, a lot of it worked. But Wild inevitably turned into more than Cramer-Krasselt could handle, and after being demoted from group creative director to creative director, he finally parted ways with the shop.

For several years thereafter, Wild seemed unable to find his footing. He said he was doing some freelance work. And from time to time he would call to tell us about some crazy project he was working on, even though we sensed he was just marking time with that stuff. We'll never forget bumping into him on a street corner in the Lakeview neighborhood several years ago. He was loaded down with bags and bags of cereal -- a funny sight. We, of course, asked why he was carting around so much cereal. He said his kids loved the stuff.

So now Scott Wild is off to Egypt. On its Web site, Advantage Marketing says it aims to be the "strongest, strategically creative agency in the Middle East." It may very well be on the way to becoming that. But with Scott Wild now on board, we know for sure Advantage will become a wild place -- in very short order. We'll miss him around the Chicago ad industry, where we could use a lot more people with Wild's adventuresome spirit.

Footwear maker Crocs Inc. has named Cramer-Krasselt/Chicago its global agency of record. This marks the first time that the company has consolidated all of its advertising, media, digital and public relations with a single, integrated agency. C-K won the consolidated assignment following an three-month review process. C-K's Chicago office will handle brand strategy, creative, interactive, online, media planning and buying and public relations, with global support through the agency's ICOM network.

"Our goal is to help Crocs further differentiate itself and expand the 'Crocs community' by sharing the unique story and substance behind the brand," said Karen Seamen, general manager of C-K/Chicago. "C-K presented a global brand platform and creative executions that, when combined, provide a compelling brand story sure to reach the millions of Crocs fans worldwide, while introducing new people to our unique and innovative footwear," added Ken Chaplin, vice-president of marketing at Crocs.

C-K's first work for the client is expected to launch in spring of 2010.

Is Cramer-Krasselt going international soon? Apparently not, according to a spokeswoman for the agency, which has its principal office here in Chicago. But that oft-rumored foreign expansion still will be one of the topics expected to be touched on in an article on Cramer-Krasselt and its leader Peter Krivkovich in next Monday's edition of Crain's Chicago Business. Whatever else may be said about him, Krivkovich undoubtedly is one of the city's most aggressive ad agency executives, though circumstances -- like account defections -- often have prevented him from growing his agency as fast as he might have liked.

Cramer-Krasselt recently suffered a big setback in its Chicago office when Crown Imports took the Corona Light business out of the agency and initially awarded it to Publicis/New York. But that move backfired when it was revealed Publicis was in talks with Anheuser-Busch InBev about working with that competing brewing giant. Aside from the Corona account issues, C-K also is currently searching for a executive creative director in its Chicago office.

No matter the setbacks though, Krivkovich always has seemed to be focused on growth, and apparently, he fully intends to keep foreign expansion on the table as an option.

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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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