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Norm Yustin.jpgAs we first hinted here a number of weeks ago, Jamie King has indeed exited as president of Euro RSCG/Chicago. And as we had known for weeks, he isn't making Chicago his future main base of operations. Rather King has decamped to San Francisco, where he announced today he is joining forces with west coast-based creative Roger Camp to launch Camp + King, a boutique ad agency that will focus on creating "conversation-swell" for its clients. That's a phrase that is related to, but different than word-of-mouth advertising. Or so we've been told.

Havas, the same holding company that owns Euro RSCG, will have a minority stake in Camp + King, which will open its doors with at least two clients on the roster, Old Navy (a unit of the Gap) and Shaklee, plus project work for Yahoo!. Interestingly, Old Navy's chief marketing officer is now Amy Curtis-McIntyre, who not too long ago was marketing chief at Hyatt Hotels. Previous to that, she was briefly head of marketing for the Jimmy Johns sandwich chain, after she moved to the Chicago area from New York, where she was a key member of the Jet Blue marketing team. Curtis-McIntyre, one could say, does know how to get around.

Meanwhile, back at Euro RSCG, which has been going through a bit of a management shake-up recently, Norm Yustin becomes the new president replacing King. Yustin arrives at Euro RSCG from Claire's, a chain of stores offering fashion accessories for teens. Yustin was Claire's global chief marketing officer. Previous to that he was a senior account executive with Leo Burnett/Chicago.

"Norm really understands the future of our business and the importance of digital, social media and mobile to our clients," said Euro RSCG North American president Ron Bess. That all may be very well and good, but we also hope Yustin knows how to bring in boatloads of new business, because that's what Euro RSCG really needs right now.

Groupon, the rapidly-growing, Chicago-based shopping website, has retained Euro RSCG/Chicago as a strategic counsel. The agency will support Groupon with customer relationship marketing strategies, among other services. A Euro spokesman said the shop's relationship with Groupon is not that of an agency of record. Groupon has been much in the news of late, having been a rumored takeover target by Google. But that deal appears to have been rejected by Groupon, at least for now. Groupon currently has 35 million subscribers in 31 countries.

The addition of Groupon to its client roster is a bit of good news for Euro RSCG, which has been rocked in recent months by a couple of key client defections on its consumer advertising side, as well as a shakeup in its creative department. Chief creative officer Steffan Postaer was moved upstairs to the post of chairman, and Jason Peterson arrived last week as new chief creative officer. But Peterson is not expected to have much contact with the Groupon business, which will be more of a below-the-line effort.

"We are pleased to work with Euro RSCG on our customer marketing efforts," said John Becvar, director of marketing at Groupon. "We know their experience in this space will prove beneficial to us as we test different programs with our growing base of Groupon subscribers, Becvar added.

OTSC-0807.jpegThe Chicago advertising and public relations industry's annual Off the Street Club holiday luncheon almost didn't happen this year.

Jack Rooney of Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago delivered that shocking and grim bit of news at the top of what turned out to be a very festive affair Thursday at the Fairmont Hotel Chicago. Rooney said he was told early in the summer that no ad agency or public relations firm had stepped forward to sponsor the 2010 luncheon. Usually by that point, planning would be well under way for an event typically held early in December each year.

Tradition has it that one ad agency or public relations firm is the luncheon's lead sponsor. But times being what they are (hard, in case you hadn't guessed) in the Chicago ad world, no agency apparently raised its hand to follow in the steps of Euro RSCG/Chicago, lead sponsor of last year's slickly-executed luncheon.

Rooney made it clear Ogilvy wasn't prepared to shoulder the responsibility of doing this year's luncheon all alone. But before panic set in, a decision was made to pull together a consortium of agencies that are part of the Chicago chapter of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and let the bunch of them share the responsibility of doing the planning and execution of this year's event.

The luncheon's near collapse notwithstanding, we are pleased to report it went off without a hitch, with upwards of 700 in attendance. As always, the highlight was the naming of the Off the Street Club Boy and Girl of the Year. This year they are Jovan Bradley and Latarsia Jackson.

We never cease to be amazed at what poise and polish these hugely promising youngsters demonstrate when they stand all alone before a large crowd of strangers to give a speech and share a little bit of what makes them special. Jackson wants to grow up to be a poetess, and she read a lovely poem about peace and giving thanks. Bradley proudly channels Justin Bieber, and he gave a performance that demonstrated Bieber has nothing on him.

Altogether, the luncheon is expected to raise in excess of $400,000 to help the Off the Street Club continue its decades of work with children from the city's west side, where drugs and gang violence are constant concerns.

For the record, the ad agencies that helped make the 2010 luncheon happen are (in alphabetical order): Cramer-Krasselt; Digitas; Energy BBDO; Euro RSCG; Leo Burnett and Ogilvy & Mather. Edelman/Ruth did the video presentation. "Hope" was the theme for the luncheon.

Picture 2.pngAs he prepared Tuesday to move into the top creative job at Euro RSCG/Chicago starting Dec. 1, Jason Peterson, 42, was full of high hopes that he will play an instrumental role in helping make Euro one of Chicago's top ad shops. Peterson, of course, wouldn't be the first creative to arrive in Chicago with such an optimistic attitude, only to be quickly forced to confront a less rosy reality.

I've always had a soft spot for Chicago advertising," said Peterson in an interview Tuesday. His first full-time job in advertising was at a small, now defunct Chicago agency. The majority of his career has been in New York. But Peterson said he used to stand in front of the Leo Burnett building and imagine it was Disneyland. If Peterson has been following Burnett in recent years, however, it might be more difficult for him to conjure such a fantasy.

But one thing is certain: Peterson has a big job ahead of him if he is to succeed at making Euro RSCG/Chicago a major player. First he will have to contend with the absence of any significant, high-profile above-the-line accounts. Euro is said to be in hot pursuit of the Sonic fast food chain account, but if the shop doesn't land that piece of business, Peterson will have to look elsewhere for an account that he could parlay into a calling card to attract additional new business to Euro. And new business is what the agency desperately needs to begin to rebound.

Plus, Peterson will have to contend with the fact Euro RSCG's below-the-line business has been the tail wagging the dog for some time now. Absent that, the agency probably would have closed its doors long ago. Peterson expressed excitement about working with Euro leader Ron Bess ("the most genuine man I've met in the business") and with Joy Schwartz and Jamie King, who have been doing most of the hands-on running of Euro RSCG/Chicago and trolling for new business.

But King was a good friend of Steffan Postaer. With Postaer removed from any position of real power, the landscape at Euro RSCG is considerably changed from what it was when King arrived. And sources now say King may not be sticking around much longer to see what Peterson can accomplish.

At Translation/New York, his most recent outpost, Peterson was focused on work aimed at adolescent and young adult demos. He said he wants to run a creative department and work on a "wider palette" now, and he intends to make that happen at Euro RSCG. Peterson plans to move his family to Chicago, so he looks to be serious. As it always does though, only time will tell what Peterson can achieve.

More on Jason Peterson, the newly-anointed chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago. An agency spokesman said Peterson intends to focus quickly on new business development -- an effort that has not yielded the kind of results agency management no doubt hoped to get in recent years with Steffan Postaer and Blake Ebel at the creative helm. "There's lots of new business floating around out there," said the Euro spokesman. Indeed there is, but getting it on the roster has proved daunting, not only for Euro, but plenty of other shops in Chicago.

Peterson attended the Portfolio Center in Atlanta and got his first job as an art director in advertising at the defunct Arian Lowe in Chicago, before moving on to New York, where he worked at Berlin Cameron and at Fallon before heading to Translation, where he is both executive creative director and a partner in the shop.

In his new role as Euro RSCG/Chicago chairman, Postaer, who was moved out of the chief creative officer job at Euro RSCG to make way for Peterson, will work on special projects for the agency and involve himself in pitches where appropriate, a spokesman said.

Postaer apparently also will be paid to continue working on his personal blog and his writing projects, which in recent years have included two novels -- one self-published and another about a gay interior decorator that has been released on the web in installments over the past several months.

Picture 2.pngSteffan Postaer is indeed out as chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago. But not out of the agency at least for now. Postaer's being kicked upstairs and will have the title of chairman, though it's unclear what duties he now will have at the agency. The new chief creative officer is Jason Peterson, effective Dec. 1. Peterson most recently served as executive creative director at Translation/New York. Peterson will report to Euro RSCG Chicago Group CEO Ron Bess.

"Jason has done some great work for some of the country's biggest brands," said Bess. "But what really attracted us to him was that he represents the future of creativity. He understands the new dynamic that digital and social media have brought to our clients, and I believe he can motivate our creative teams to come up with future-focused, big ideas in this space," added Bess.

As executive creative director at New York-based Translation, Peterson worked on business for McDonald's, Target, State Farm and Wrigley. Prior to Translation, he was a creative director and founding partner at Berlin Cameron and Partners/New York.

"Recently, there's been a lot of talk about chief creative officers with a lack of traditional and digital knowledge, when in reality there aren't many forward thinking agencies," said Peterson. "Euro RSCG has the best handle on new media and still knows the idea is essential. That's why they were the clear choice for me. Great creatives have caught up and what everyone should be looking for are people with big ideas," said Peterson.

Steffan Postaer is indeed out as chief creative officer at Euro RSCG/Chicago. But not out of the agency at least for now. He's being kicked upstairs and will have the title of chairman, though it's unclear what duties he will have at the agency. The new chief creative officer is Jason Peterson, effective Dec. 1. Peterson most recently served as executive creative director at Translation/New York. Peterson will report to Euro RSCG Chicago Group CEO Ron Bess.

As executive creative director at New York-based Translation, Peterson worked on business for McDonald's, Target, State Farm and Wrigley. Prior to Translation, he was a creative director and founding partner at Berlin Cameron and Partners/New York.

Is a big creative shake-up about to happen -- again -- at Euro RSCG/Chicago? Last summer Blake Ebel abruptly departed the Chicago shop as co-chief creative officer to take a job with a Colorado agency.

Now sources are reporting Steffan Postaer could be the next top creative out the door. Postaer's reign at Euro RSCG has been something considerably less than a complete success. With the blessing of Euro RSCG/Chicago leader Ron Bess, Postaer arrived in 2004 with the goal of helping complete the turnaround of a shop that been struggling for some time.

But Postaer wasn't able to develop much momentum on the new business front. Valspar paint was about as good as it got for the top creative who had helped transform Altoids into an iconic breath mint brand during his long tenure at Leo Burnett/Chicago. Creatively, there were occasional sparks of the sort that he brought to the unconventional Altoids work. But not enough.

To the consternation of some at Euro RSCG/Chicago, Postaer spent much of his free time during his tenure at the agency writing a couple of unusual novels. The latest dealt with a gay decorator, and the author released it chapter by chapter on the Internet.

It's unclear what might be the next step for Postaer. He thought long and hard before casting his fate with Euro RSCG. With the agency business rapidly evolving into something much different than it was even when Postaer came to Euro RSCG, it's hard to say what might be a good fit for him going forward.

Heather Danby has joined Euro RSCG/Chicago as an account director reporting directly to Tricia Clark, a group account director at the shop. Prior to joining Euro RSCG, Danby was a management director at DraftFCB/Chicago, where she worked on business development initiatives and managed client relationships with Kmart and the United States Postal Service. Her expertise spans digital, direct mail, retail and shopper marketing. Danby's 16 years of experience in the ad business also has involved managing business -to-business and business-to-consumer marketing campaigns for Kellogg and the National Cattleman's Beef Association.

Euro RSCG Worldwide has launched Euro RSCG Social, a new cross-discipline
social media arm of the global ad agency. "We're probably doing more in the
social media space than any other agency globally, and this move simply
groups all our efforts under one umbrella brand," said David Jones, global
CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide.

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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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