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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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It's official. Downtown Partners/Chicago is the agency of record for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's re-election campaign. This will mark the first stab at political campaign advertising for the folks at Downtown Partners, who always welcome a new challenge.

Strategizing for Madigan's ad campaign is expected to begin almost immediately, but the first advertising most likely won't hit until October. Though some in Democratic political circles wanted Madigan to consider a run for governor, she opted to focus on re-election as attorney general. Observers say she may have a better -- or at least easier -- shot at the governor's job after all of the negative fallout from the Rod Blagojevich trial finally is over. Which, considering where things stand now, could be quite a long time from now.

screen-capture-3.png Ever anxious to expand their creativity into new realms, the creative forces behind Downtown Partners/Chicago are moving into music video production. Their first effort, just completed, is for a Chicago band called The Sleeptalkers, and it is set to a song called "Falling Apart." Shot at a Rogers Park thrift shop, the music video is considerably less frenetic than most. So one can actually focus on watching the band and the other characters in the video, which has an odd little running story line about a man and woman who keep returning to the store and getting bound together with various kinds of string, rope, clips and duct tape. The story seems open to various interpretations, but it nonetheless helps sustain interest in the video, whether or not one is a fan of the Sleeptalkers or their song.

Downtown Partners/Chicago has exited the Comcast SportsNet Chicago review now underway to find a new agency to work on an ad campaign promoting the cable sports channel's on-air talent. CSNC reportedly is asking participating agencies to sign an agreement prior to even doing a final presentation for the business. That agreement, among other things, would require the shops to be responsible for any lawsuits that could surface in connection with work or ideas from the pitches or any new campaign eventually used by the cable sports channel. Downtown Partners balked at that demand. But at least one of the agencies involved in the pitch, believed to be the Chicago office of Jacobson Rost, has apparently signed on the dotted line anyway. Times are tough in the ad biz, after all. CSNC marketing honcho Jaclene Tetzlaff could not be immediately reached for comment. She previously indicated she hoped to select an agency for the project by mid-August.

Otis D.Gibson.jpgPortfolio Night has become an annual event that happens on the same day (this year it's June 11) at ad agencies in 22 countries around the world and that allows young men and women about to graduate, or just graduated from, college to present their work and get constructive feedback from working advertising creatives. Given the current trying state of the ad industry, this may not be the most upbeat of nights. But who knows.
Portfolio Night this year in Chicago is being orchestrated by Gertrude Inc., a boutique shop that has a low, but hip profile. At least the agency's flashy Web site certainly suggests the shop is striving for hipness. DDB/Chicago, whose local profile isn't what it once was, had run the Portfolio event in Chicago in years past.

Gertrude founder and Chief Creative Officer Otis D. Gibson (not to be confused with the cricket player) told us he was happy to take over the event from DDB because he's always been a big supporter of young advertising talent in this city and likes to hire young recruits at his agency as often as he can. "I see lots of young talent with great ideas, but they need to learn how to implement," said Gibson.
Gibson has reserved Chicago's Relax Lounge for the Portfolio evening and commissioned Dale Levitski of "Top Chef" fame to prepare what are being characterized as "small bites" for the occasion.

Since Gertrude is relatively small, the shop has reached out to creatives from other local agencies to interact with students at Portfolio Night. That list of participating professionals includes some familiar names, including Steffan Postaer, the famously quirky chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago, and Vinny Warren, the cheekily comedic creative director and founder of the Escape Pod/Chicago. Several creatives from Leo Burnett/Chicago also are on the list, as are Jim Schmidt and Joe Stewart from Downtown Partners and Paul Brourman from Sponge.

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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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