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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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Julie Kravitz and Brad Tohtz have been promoted to the position of editor at post production house Optimus/Chicago. "They possess a diversity of creative skill, have worked on both digital and traditional projects and are well-versed on various platforms, which is so necessary in today's challenging climate," said Optimus president Tom Duff. Kravitz graduated in 2004 from Washington University in St. Louis. After a stint in California, she moved back to the midwest to begin her pursuit of a career in editing. She joined Optimus as an assistant editor in 2007. Tohtz earned a degree in television and digital media production at Ferris State University and joined Optimus in 2005.

YourGEDFrame5__110420.jpgOptimus/Chicago and DDB/Chicago have joined forces to create a series of videos and a TV spot encouraging people who didn't graduate from high school to take the necessary steps to get a GED diploma -- a document that certifies the holder has attained high school level skills and knowledge. The introductory video, posted at www.yourged.org, is fairly basic. It shows several young people who have made the decision to get their GED. We hear a little about what forced them to drop out of school and what happened to them subsequently.

A more interesting execution is the 60-second TV spot, also posted on the site. It does a masterful job of first capturing the dejection and isolation of people whose lives appear to have reached a dead end. Then, ever so slowly, we see them start to break down the walls -- literally and figuratively -- that have held them back because they lacked a high school diploma. That wonderfully liberating sense of freedom that comes from bursting through barriers is fully realized in this quiet, but powerful TV execution that also directs viewers to the previously-mentioned website.

This ad campaign was funded by the Dollar General Literary Foundation and the Ad Council.

Post production house Optimus/Chicago has added Paul Rosckes as its new visual effects supervisor. Rosckes honed his visual effects skills at post-production house Avenue Edit, where he designed visual effects and graphics for national commercials. After freelancing for Optimus for some time, Rosckes was seen to be a great fit with the Optimus family. "Paul is a remarkable guy who has the talent to create that surprising extra effect or special touch that you'd never expect," said Optimus president Tom Duff. "Optimus has an outstanding visual effects and motion graphics team that shares my passion for finding new ways to approach visual effects challenges," said Rosckes.

The show of shows -- the advertising event of Chicago's fall season -- is taking firmer shape.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Creative Club Awards show organizers -- Matt Brennock, Liz Ross and Katie Juras -- confirmed the headliner band that will perform at the Sept. 10 extravaganza at the Riviera Theater in Uptown. It is Of Montreal, a Georgia-based band with, interestingly enough, some Canadian influences. The band's Wikipedia entry characterizes Of Montreal as a baroque rock group, which sounds intriguing enough to us, who don't have a great familiarity with the vast number of rock bands out there performing.

But Brennock told us there's also a Cirque du Soleil air about Of Montreal and their performance style. Now Cirque we know something about, and that certainly sounds appealing to us. The band's performance at the Sept. 10 event will come about 30 minutes after the awards presentations are concluded, Brennock said. And he hopes having a band with some genuine cred in the music industry and a large following will be yet one more incentive for hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have avoided previous CCC events to check out this year's event.

Brennock said he is pleased about how well -- given all the obstacles they have had to confront -- things have gone so far with the show planning. Of course, they could always go better, he conceded. Toward that end, Brennock was set to meet with DraftFCB leader Howard Draft this morning to ensure Draft is on board and committed to making the Sept. 10 show as great as humanly possible.

Despite the willingness of so many people to lend a helping hand (especially Tom Duff of Optimus), Brennock said there still have been troubling pockets of resistance to what the show organizers are trying to achieve. Somehow we're not surprised. Too many people in the local ad community, we've sadly concluded, are fearful of change, which can be threatening. And given the upheaval the ad industry has faced -- especially in Chicago -- fear itself is another factor that makes it difficult for some to embrace the new and the unknown.

But we continue to applaud Brennock, Ross and Juras for trying to make a difference, shake things up a bit and do something for the entire, extended advertising community. If there is indeed an extended ad community worth saving and honoring in Chicago, all that are part of that community would do well to circle Sept. 10 on their calendars now, purchase their $50 tickets at www.chicagoadfed.org/CCCAwards/ccc.html, and be there at the Riviera. It may very well prove a night and a "No Show" to remember. In the nicest, most inclusive way.

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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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