Chicago Sun-Times
Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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It's become a familiar -- and somewhat disturbing -- occurrence in recent years at the Chicago-based travel Web site Orbitz.com. The company said Wednesday it has brought on board yet another new vice-president of brand marketing Deborah Italiano, who most recently was handling marketing for another travel Web operation, Travelocity.com.

An Orbitz spokesman also said the company is now conducting a closed agency review. Only last year, Orbitz brought on board Trailer Park/Los Angeles to work on both creative concepts and advertising production, though Trailer Park over the past year primarily was a production source for Orbitz. The ad campaign Orbitz is currently running was produced by Mullen/Boston, another agency the company has worked with in recent years, along with Young & Rubicam/Chicago. Orbitz apparently has asked Trailer Park and Mullen to re-pitch the business. Orbitz would not disclose the names of other shops it has asked to participate.

Meanwhile, Italiano is the third executive in the last five years that has signed on to handle Orbitz's marketing responsibilities. Orbitz no longer has an executive with the chief marketing officer title, but now uses the vice-president of brand marketing title instead.

The entire travel industry has been hard hit by the sharp economic downturn the past couple of years, which may explain in part the reason for Orbitz's rapid turnover in marketing executives and ad agencies working for the company. But Orbitz and the various agencies it has worked with also have struggled to come up with ad campaigns capable of galvanizing the public's attention and compelling customers to turn to Orbitz instead of several other aggressive competitors.

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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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