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LA Gear_Step into The Lights.jpgGertrude Inc./Chicago has just completed what is indeed a flashy new commercial for a line of flashy L.A. Gear sneakers with flashing lights embedded in their heels, collectively known as the L.A. Lights Collection. The TV spot features the flashy movements of four young members of the Borjas family, a.k.a. the Chi-Town Finest Breakers, who do a fine job of showing off the shoes and their own deft dance moves.

The four dancing stars are Lucio, Alazaie, Santos and Enrique Borjas.
Gertrude Inc. also brought on board an extended team of talented individuals and firms to create the spot called "Step into the Lights." They include director Jay Patton of Dictionary Films, copywriter Peter Toutant, motion designer and editor Chris Anderson of Sol Design, editor Christopher Gotschall of Cutters Editorial, and music composer Mark Share of Easyfeel. Overseeing all aspects of the effort was Gertrude chief creative officer Otis D. Gibson.

"Step into the Lights" is being released to coincide with the ramp-up to the all-important holiday selling season. L.A. Gear was originally founded in 1979 to market and rent roller skates in Venice Beach, Calif. It expanded into footwear in the mid-1980's and was re-introduced to the marketplace in December, 2008.

Now that the Gulf of Mexico oil well has been sealed, and the leaking has stopped, Gertrude Inc./Chicago has launched an effort to benefit Gulf Coast oil spill restoration entitled "A Bird In Hand Project." The integrated campaign consists of TV, print, web and online elements and is a forum for the public to contribute to the many organizations that still rely on donations are are working to clean and protect the wildlife and habitats in the Gulf Coast. "This project is important because it's helping remind the nation that the oil's not gone and that the impact from BP's drilling disaster is ongoing," said Aaron Viles, campaign director of the Gulf Restoration Network. All campaign components are housed at www.abirdinhandproject.com.

After a review, Singha beer has tapped Gertrude Inc./Chicago as its ad agency of record in the United States. In addition, Gertrude will spearhead global initiatives for the Thai brew. Gertrude will develop a marketing campaign aimed at premium beer drinkers. "Gertrude is proud to be working with such a highly-regarded premium brand that continues building momentum in North America," said Gertrude founder and chief creative officer Otis D. Gibson. Gertrude Inc. is expected to break its first work for the beer next month.

*Portfolio8-129.jpg*The eighth annual Chicago Portfolio Night attracted more than 225 people to the Cobra Lounge for the event. For the second year running, the evening was hosted by Gertrude Inc./Chicago. Sponsors included Euro RSCG/Chicago, Leo Burnett, DDB, Chicago Recording Company, Resolution Digital Studios and Captivate Network. Portfolio Night was designed to allow young creatives looking to get a start in the ad business to present their best creative to some of the city's established creative directors, chief creative officers and agency founders.

The portfolio reviewers on hand for the recent Chicago event included Otis D. Gibson, Becky Kozlen, Isabella Ferreira, Steffan Postaer, Kevin Lynch, Ann Brown, John Condon, Susie Steinberg and Jonathan Hoffman. Captivate Network has promised to display some of the best creative presented during Portfolio Night on some 368 Captivate elevator screens in 22 agency buildings throughout Chicago.

GERTRUDE_PN8_CHICAGO.jpgAs it did last year, Gertrude/Chicago will host the annual Portfolio Night in Chicago this year. The event, which allows prospective young ad creatives to have their portfolios critiqued by professionals in the business, will take place in Chicago and some 35 cities worldwide on May 20, 2010. Gertrude/Chicago plans to host this year's event at the Cobra Lounge. "Once again we are looking forward to the turnout of young creatives and creative directors who truly drive this event," said Otis D. Gibson, founder and chief creative officer of Gertrude. Additional sponsors of Portfolio Night in Chicago include Leo Burnett, DDB, Resolution Digital Studios and Captivate Network.

Among those local creative executives scheduled to evaluate the work on May 20 are: Euro RSCG chief creative officer Blake Ebel; Euro RSCG chief creative officer Steffan Postaer, Tribal DDB executive creative director David Hernandez and Proximity BBDO senior vice-president Kevin Lynch.

SwimwithSea-Monkeys.jpgGertrude Inc./Chicago has developed a new print and online ad campaign to re-introduce "The Amazing Live Sea-Monkeys" to a new generation of children. The popular kids toy debuted in 1957. Gertrude Inc.'s new integrated campaign includes four print ads and an interactive microsite that brings the vintage kids toy to the Web and allows users to customize their own Sea-Monkeys tank and share it with friends. The campaign plays to a strength of the Gertrude shop, namely creating rich interactive experiences that compliment broader integrated ad campaigns.

GERTRUDE_PN7_26.JPGThe annual Portfolio Night in Chicago has come and gone. And we hear from chief organizer Otis Gibson of Gertrude Inc./Chicago that the event was well-attended. More than a hundred young people looking to launch a career in advertising showed up at Chicago's Relax Lounge on the near west side to have their portfolios critiqued by some of Chicago's most high-profile creative talent, including Gibson, Kevin Lynch, Vinny Warren, Paul Brourman, Reed Collins, Bob Winter and Steffan Postaer, who, of course, loves to be wherever the action is perceived to be.

Gibson said that, in conjunction with the Captivate Network, his Gertrude agency is now selecting a short list of the best work exhibited by the young talent present for Portfolio Night. That work will be exhibited in some 368 Captivate Network elevator screens in buildings that house 21 ad agencies around Chicago. Gibson is hopeful the additional exposure will help some of the young talent that attended Portfolio Night land a job "with lots of late nights," as Gibson put it.

Gertrude Inc./Chicago has been named agency of record for Binaca breath spay, manufactured by oral care brand conglomerate Dr. Fresh Inc. Dr. Fresh acquired Binaca in 2008, and is now focused on reviving the brand. Gertrude has a history of breathing new life into disregarded brands, including the iconic Lava Lite. Gertrude will roll out an integrated ad campaign for Binaca, including television work set to break on June 1. A brand packaging redesign is being featured in Walgreens stores and other outlets. Additional print executions and guerrilla elements will play out through 2009.

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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