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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

Recently in Lou Beres & Associates/Chicago Category

Rumors swirled Wednesday that Lou Beres & Associates/Chicago had shut its doors, but the doors aren't shut completely. At least not yet, according to agency chairman Cathy Beres, who finally got in touch with us.

"We have substantially downsized, but we are still an entity," said Beres, who declined to say what clients the agency still had beyond the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, ReachMD and Medline/Curad. Cathy Beres also wouldn't say how many staff are still employed at the shop. Nor would she talk about the shop's future, except to note that Lou Beres & Associates has been struggling like many other local ad agencies.

Indeed the situation at Lou Beres speaks to the continued difficulties many smaller Chicago shops have experienced getting -- and maintaining -- a client base that can allow them to keep the doors open in an extraordinarily tough economy. The Chicago Creative Partnership also recently closed.

The Lou Beres shop was known primarily for its work for the American Medical Association and the Illinois Department of Transportation. But aside from some pretty good work for those two pieces of business, the agency had not managed to make much headway. Beres' chief creative officer Andy Madorsky certainly tried to generate a profile for Lou Beres & Associates within the Chicago ad community, but it apparently hasn't been enough.

Now some in the local ad community wonder which other shops might soon opt to shut down. With Zig/Chicago creative leader Stephen Leps apparently headed for Leo Burnett/Chicago after a little more than a year trying to get Zig going, some think Zig's Toronto-based management might opt to close down its small Chicago operation rather than go through a search for a new creative leader and then wait to see whether that person can do what Leps didn't.

Smithe Babies 3.jpgGood news for some in the ad world at the Chicago/Midwest Emmy Awards ceremony last Saturday at the Park West. Lou Beres & Associates/Chicago won a Emmy Award in the public service campaign category for its "Click It or Ticket" campaign for the Illinois Department of Transportation's traffic safety division. The campaign was designed to break through to an audience of offenders (primarily young adults) and remind them that cops are there watching, even at night. "The idea was to portray cops and enforcement in a friendly manner that underscores their dedication to a motorist's safety," explained Lou Beres & Associates Chief Creative Officer Andy Madorsky.

And the Walter E. Smithe furniture company and its marketing titan Tim Smithe picked up the Chicago/Midwest Emmy for best TV commercial for a spot that had all three Smithe brothers sitting in baby high chairs. The winning commercial is but one in a long line of outrageously creative spots produced by the Smithe company. In his acceptance speech, Tim Smithe thanked commercial director Bill O'Neil for "making TV magic." Smithe also quoted the character Donald Draper from the "Mad Men" TV series in pointing out that "advertising is distilling a company's communication down to its essence."

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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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