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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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Lachky, Bob.jpgThe other shoe just dropped.

In a move that is sure to reverberate in the worst way throughout the offices of beleaguered DBB/Chicago, Bob Lachky said today that he is leaving his post as chief creative officer at Anheuser-Busch at the end of February, bringing to an end a 20-year stint at America's most prominent brewery. In an interview Tuesday, Lachky said he is still mulling what he wants to do next, but his job of overseeing creative development of advertising for A-B's portfolio of beer brands will not be filled. Instead, that job will be shared by several people in A-B's revamped marketing department, including Vice President, Marketing Keith Levy; Vice President, Trademark Brands Gregg Billmeyer, and Vice President Import, Craft & Specialty Group Andy Goeler.

Lachky's exit comes just a week after the 2009 Super Bowl, where for the first time in a while, none of the seven commercials A-B telecast during the game won USA Today's much-referenced Ad Meter popularity contest. Six of the seven spots that A-B debuted during the game were created by DDB, where Lachky was an account executive for six years before jumping to A-B.

With Lachky's A-B job now being decentralized, it remains to be seen how DDB's relationship with A-B will play out. Because of Lachky's previous ties to DDB, many observers have long maintained he heavily favored the Chicago shop, even though much of its creative for Budweiser and Bud Light hasn't been especially fresh or attention-grabbing the past several years. And the agency failed to make A-B's hugely expensive Bud.tv online venture a must-visit destination.

With A-B now under InBev's control, the Belgium-based brewing giant may decide it wants to shake up the St. Louis brewery's agency roster, which also includes Cannonball in St. Louis, LatinWorks in Austin, Tex., and Euro RSCG in Chicago. The exit of Lachky paves the way for that possible eventuality. But on Tuesday, Lachky and others at the brewery insisted DDB is still the lead agency and would continue in that role for the foreseeable future. If DDB were to hold on to some or all of its A-B business, InBev, which is known for running a tight ship, could also try to get more work out of the agency for less money.

But even as DDB's relationship with A-B is taking a potentially disturbing turn, much more remains unsettled within DDB, where a year after the suicide of creative leader Paul Tilley, agency leader Rick Carpenter has yet to name a new chief creative officer. Sources say the funds needed to cover the salary of a new creative honcho have been tied up in payments to Tilley's widow over the past year.

Lachky's departure also comes just a month after the abrupt retirement of another powerful A-B marketing executive Tony Ponturo. As recently as last fall, trade publication Advertising Age indicated Anheuser-Busch's top marketing executives had been resigned by InBev and were paid bonuses to continue on with the company. But obviously, things have changed at A-B.

It's not exactly a "Heidi" moment, but Super Bowl viewers in the Tuscon-area were inflicted with several second of full-frontal male nudity from an adult channel Sunday night. It's unclear if the bevy of viewer outrage directed at KVOA was because of the perversion or the interrupted play of a closely contested game.

After you've dad time to wade through the $409 million in commercials aired during the Super Bowl, take some time to pick through the history of Super Bowl advertising and see where you think this year's efforts rate.

What did you think of the Super Bowl ads this year?

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Hulu.com and NBC Sports teamed up this year to give you one-stop viewing of this year's Super Bowl ads.

So, what did you think? View the ads below, and vote for them here.


'Veggie Love': PETA's Banned Super Bowl Ad


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has done it again. While the debate rages on in more enlightened circles about how much good PETA actually does, the Washington, D.C-based animal rights organization has proved once more that it is hugely adept at instantly creating controversy. Witness the TV commercial the organization released to the world on Wednesday -- along with the news that NBC had banned the spot from the Super Bowl telecast on Sunday.

It's not hard to understand why NBC readily helped PETA in its bid to stir up controversy. The banned commercial features several buxom women in sexy lingerie fondling a variety of vegetables. The montage of suggestive veggie sex imagery is set to a pounding rock score that makes the visuals appear even more lurid than they really are. The commercial ends with the message "Studies Show: Vegetarians Have Better Sex" without clearly referencing whatever study produced this surprising and dubious bit of news.

While the spot is sure to stir the blood of those who like their advertising heavily laced with titillation, it really does nothing to further the cause of animal rights. Instead it has sparked a frenzy in the blogosphere over the TV commercial's unabashedly sexual, yet totally pointless content and NBC's move to ban it from sports' biggest event. In the meantime, we are left to ponder whether PETA really would have forked over the $3 million to buy the airtime to run the spot during the Super Bowl, if that indeed was ever the organization's real intention.

For now, though, PETA isn't talking. It's just letting the controversey rather tiresomely play itself out, which we're sure it will do in short order.

full-lickoff[1].jpgIt ain't pretty, but at least it's a competition involving some pretty high-profile athletes. On Sunday, football pros Eli and Peyton Manning will take on tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams in the latest edition of the ongoing "Double Stuf Lick Race," a commercial designed to see which of two teams can best twist, lick and dunk Oreos, a cookie brand that is a unit of Northfield-based Kraft Foods. The Williams sisters and the Peyton brothers are among the most intensely competitive athletes in professional sports today, so it's not surprising that this new commercial from DraftFCB does capture some of the natural intensity these stars bring to any competitive endeavor.

But this commercial is primarily an exercise in licking and dunking Oreos, so aside from the star power contained therein, this spot doesn't offer much that is visually interesting. Unless, of course, you find licking Oreos to be a gripping bit of business. There's also some silliness involving a punctured blimp, which provides the commercial's limp punch line. Anything for a yuck, you know.

This new star-powered Oreo spot is slated to debut during the NFC Championship Game on Sunday. And the spot, in part, will serve to advise fans of Oreo licking that they may win a trip to the championship lick race in July, and a private coaching session with the Manning brothers and Williams sisters. Now that kind of offer just might be enough to prompt a large number of viewers to start practicing up on their competitive licking.

Lew's view: C+

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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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