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CDW to Ogilvy/Chicago?

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Is Ogilvy/Chicago about to get CDW, the Vernon Hills-based computer parts reseller? Though it seemingly has taken forever to name a winner in the account review that is believed to have been narrowed to Ogilvy and the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., sources say it now may be just a matter of ironing out the last details of a contract between client and new agency of record. Word is that the CDW business will involve a lot of below-the-line work, which means the account may actually be a good fit with the Ogilvy operation here in Chicago, which is pretty well staffed in that department. And though it's merely circumstantial evidence at best, we've been told Ogilvy/Chicago Chief Creative Officer Joe Sciarrotta has seemed pretty chipper in recent days. We doubt it's the water that's causing the upbeat mood. Maybe it's something called CDW?

Any day now, we could learn the outcome of the review for the CDW advertising account that has been underway for several months now. Two finalists, we're told, remain in the running for the computer product reseller's ad business: Ogilvy/Chicago and the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va. On Tuesday morning, we ran into Ogilvy Chief Creative Officer Joe Sciarrotta in the lobby of the building in which we both happen to work. He was all gussied up in a suit -- a decidedly different look than the jeans and tee that we've previously often seen him in when our paths have crossed. Sources tell us Sciarrotta may have been en route to the final pitch for the CDW business on that fateful Tuesday morning, though he certainly didn't say that to us.

In any event, we're also told Ogilvy has been pulling out all the stops to land CDW, even bringing in bigwigs from Ogilvy's New York headquarters to supplement the local team working on the pitch. Anything to impress the potential client, you know. Though Martin is a formidable competitor, there are those who think Ogilvy may have a decent chance at winning the CDW business, because it involves a lot of below-the-line promotional work. Ogilvy's complement of workers here in Chicago includes people versed in that particular sort of marketing work. And Ogilvy just may be hungrier -- having recently lost the Oscar Mayer business that parent Kraft Foods had handed the agency.

Everybody who thinks it's time for a regime change at Ogilvy/Chicago, please raise your hand. It no doubt surprised no one in the local ad community to find out that Ogilvy had lost its Oscar Mayer business, which parent Kraft Foods handed to the Chicago shop on a silver platter a couple of years ago. The OM business now is moving to McGarryBowen/New York, which along with its Chicago outpost, is becoming a popular destination for a variety of Kraft brands. The MB Chicago shop just outdid itself with a hip new Miracle Whip campaign.

But this isn't about MB. It's about Ogilvy/Chicago and the very unsavvy way that shop has been run in recent years by Joe Sciarrotta and Jack Rooney, two executives who seem to have an extreme fear of stepping into the spotlight. Maybe it's just because they're shy. Or more likely, it's because they're afraid the limelight would expose what a shabby job they've done of running the joint. Does anyone out there really have any idea what Ogilvy/Chicago is up to? Does anybody out there even care? More importantly, do Sciarrotta and Rooney really want their shop to grow and thrive? They certainly have given us no indication that is what they want.

It has been apparent for some time that their game plan was pretty much like that of the sorry management team of the about-to-die JWT/Chicago. In other words, let the whole thing sink into the muck and mire due to inertia and neglect. One wonders what Ogilvy brass in New York think about the sad situation here in the Chicago office? If they're thinking at all about it. Certainly they've got enough problems to deal with in the New York flagship office, which is plagued by the same issues evident in Chicago -- only on a bigger scale.

Rooney and Sciarrotta have had their chance -- and then some -- to make Ogilvy/Chicago a happening place once more. They haven't gotten the job done. It's time for a change.

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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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