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Lewis Lazare follows Chicago media and marketing news

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hernandez_david_port.JPGDavid Hernandez is rejoining Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago as managing director of OgilvyOne and executive creative director of Ogilvy & Mather. Hernandez previously worked at OgilvyOne from 2003 to 2009, before joining Tribal DDB in Chicago as managing director.

Hernandez's jump back to Ogilvy comes as Tribal DDB/Chicago is going through a massive downsizing in the wake of the loss of its State Farm business to DraftFCB/Chicago. There had been talk a couple of months ago of Tribal DDB merging its operations with sibling DDB/Chicago, which has been in a major slump for several years. But several high-up DDB operatives were reportedly resisting such a merger.

Hernandez's return to Ogilvy is part of the shop's efforts to position itself as a digitally-savvy operation. "David is an exceptional digital leader who will be a great addition to our Chicago management team," said Jack Rooney, president, O&M/Chicago. "David's expanded creative role is designed to provide digital creative leadership across all agency disciplines," added Joe Sciarrotta, chief creative officer of Ogilvy & Mather/Chicago.

Monday marked the second anniversary of the suicide of Paul Tilley, the DDB/Chicago chief creative officer who jumped to his death from a Fairmont Hotel guest room in Chicago. That event, to say the least, stunned and paralyzed DDB, an agency that had, even then, been in difficult straits for some time. Now two years on, sources say, DDB could move as early as this week to grapple with a situation that has gone from bad to worse to untenable.

One possible course of action has DDB merging with Tribal DDB to form some sort of new media entity that can -- so the spin would go -- better address the new realities of a changed advertising industry. Truth be told, both DDB/Chicago and Tribal DDB/Chicago have lost a lot of their luster and billings in recent years, but from an image standpoint, the damage has been far worse at DDB.

It remains to be seen where DDB/Chicago leader Rick Carpenter is when all the dust has settled. Observers agree his two-and-a-half-year tenure as DDB/Chicago's leader has been nothing short of disastrous. Whatever change is coming to DDB, it likely will include changes at the top.

How much grimmer can it get? This week's staff purge at DDB/Chicago -- some two dozen creatives our sources are reporting -- is but the latest sign that the DDB we once knew is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

The exit of so many people from DDB's rudderless creative department suggests, at the very least, that this agency -- if it survives -- is going to be something far different than the creatively-driven ad agency it was known to be for decades. Our sources report that creatives still at DDB and those exiting the shop have characterized the place as a sinking ship. No surprise there, except for how long that's sadly been the case. Imagine how much a few strong leaders with a vision could have done to change the course of things.

Our sources say it's still likely there will be a major shakeout in DDB's Anheuser-Busch account, which could be split between DDB's New York and San Francisco shops if they hang on to the business. Minus most or all of that flagship beer account and a huge chunk of its creative department, DDB/Chicago could be prepping for a merger with
Tribal DDB's Chicago outpost to create some sort of new media shop -- the type of operation that (whether true or not) some clients supposedly want to do business with nowadays. Well-respected David Hernandez, who a year ago became managing director and executive creative director at Tribal DDB/Chicago, could be well-positioned to take the helm of whatever kind of creative department remains after the units are merged.

All of this upheaval comes just days before the second anniversary of the suicide of Paul Tilley, the DDB chief creative officer who jumped to his death from a room at the Fairmont Hotel.

She's back. After being abruptly dismissed by Tribal DDB several months ago, Liz Ross is back as chief growth officer for Digitas' United States operations. Though she will continue to live and operate out of Chicago, Ross said she will report to and work closely with Digitas executives based on the east coast, including CEO Laura Lang and global Chief Marketing Officer Seth Solomons.

Ross said one of her top priorities will be driving new business to Digitas. But in order to do that, she told us she will have a hand in ensuring the firm's creative is where it needs to be attract and hold on to new business. Ross will serve on Digitas' Global Growth Committee, helmed by Solomons.

When she was ousted from Tribal DDB earlier this year, Ross was the firm's president of U.S. operations and global chief marketing officer.

Liz Ross back in biz?

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We hear digital honcho Liz Ross, cut loose from Tribal DDB earlier this year, is thisclose to signing with a new firm, probably here in Chicago. A couple details regarding her new gig have yet to be finalized, but word has it that Ross will be back in business sooner rather than later. Ross disappeared suddenly from Tribal DDB, and not much was said at the time about the reasons for her departure. But Ross has subsequently been a presence on the talk circuit and was heard to make remarks that suggest she wasn't exactly cool about the way things were handled at Tribal DDB in regards to her tenure there and her abrupt exit. Since leaving Tribal DDB, Ross has been busy helping organize the upcoming Chicago Creative Awards show "No Show" set for Sept. 10.

Joe Bartolucci is rejoining Leo Burnett Group/Chicago as a senior vice president and creative director to work on the Kellogg's business and other brands. He will be working on both digital and more traditional initiatives at Leo Burnett and its marketing services arm Arc Worldwide. Most recently, Bartolucc was a group creative director at Tribal DDB/Chicago, where he worked on accounts ranging from LensCrafters to Lowe's and Tropicana Twister. He also was a senior copywriter at Marc USA.

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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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