70 year old Hoffman York rebrands for digital era as HY Connect

AFTER A MORE than 70-year run as Hoffman York, the ad agency decided it was time for an image update.  So the shop with offices in Chicago and Milwaukee has rebranded itself as HY Connect.

The name change may be cosmetic, but according to HY Connect president Dave Sheehan, the new name does a much better job than the old one of positioning the firm for a digital era when just about every new or existing client is looking for a shop with digital capabilities.  

HY Connect president Dave SheehanThe rebranding comes just months after the agency also brought on board new executive creative director Michael Rivera, previously with Agency.com.  Prior to Agency.com, Rivera also spent several years at Marc USA.

Rivera has helped HY Connect land several pieces of new business, including Turtle Wax and Peapod, even as he has helped strengthen the agency’s digital capabilities. “About 20 percent of our business is in the digital arena now,” said Sheehan.

The agency also handles frequent customer programs for two racetrack clients, Arlington Park and Churchill Downs, both now under the ownership of publicly-traded Churchill Downs Inc.  In addition, HY Connect is now handling media planning and buying for the Room Place.


THE CURTAIN HAS COME DOWN on the 2011 edition of the annual Cannes ad fest, now christened a “festival of creativity.”  Aside from Digital Kitchen/Chicago’s huge Grand Prix win in the design category, it was not a banner year for Chicago ad agencies at the festival, considered the most prestigious of the many advertising awards competitions held annually around the world.

That said, the enterprising and creatively-smart Escape Pod/Chicago is to be commended for landing no fewer than four pieces of work for Kraft Wheat Thins on the short list in the closely-watched film category.  Though none of the Escape Pod work won a Cannes Lion, it was still an impressive showing in that category for a relatively small, but accomplished Chicago ad shop.

Leo Burnett/Chicago was the only local shop to win Lions in the film category — two bronze Lions for its Allstate “Mayhem” work (the most heavily-hyped campaign at that shop during the past year).  No doubt Burnetters were hoping for a somewhat more impressive showing for its “Mayhem” campaign.


THE MERGER of the Chicago-based Dig Communications public relations firm with brand connection agency Olson/Minneapolis is complete. Olson acquired Dig in late 2010.  

Dig’s Pete Marino now president of the Olson public relations unitDig founder and president Pete Marino now becomes president of the Olson public relations unit, which has staffers in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee and San Francisco.  

“Although we’re changing our name to Olson (from Dig), we’re not changing our approach to business,” said Marino.  “Our clients continue to expect us to deliver energy, ideas and results with the same strong partnership approach,” added Marino.  

Olson PR unit clients include MillerCoors, Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. and PepsiCo.  Olson, you may recall, also is the new home for former Element 79/Chicago chief creative officer Dennis Ryan, who now has the same role with Olson. 


ON THE LOCAL TELEVISION FRONT, the turnaround saga at ratings-challenged WFLD-Channel 32 seems to have no end.  Insiders at the Fox-owned station continue to fret about the disturbingly low ratings for both the five-hour morning show “Good Day, Chicago” and the hour-long late newscast at 9 p.m. fronted by Bob Sirott and Robin Robinson. 

The ratings for both shows are not moving significantly higher, which is where management hoped they would move in the wake of a massive change in talent on air and behind the scenes at the station over the past 18 months, as well as adjustments in program content and presentation.

There are rumored to be more changes in the offing as the relentless effort to improve both shows continues.  Among them, sources say, is a new “Good Day Chicago” anchor desk, which will be situated in such a way as to make it appear the show is originating in the WFLD newsroom.

The new anchor desk also will be used for the late newscast, though it’s not yet clear exactly how it will be be incorporated into that newscast. Sources say the new half-circle anchor desk, made of brown and beige woods, will debut later this summer.  Right now it is sitting unused in a corner of the WFLD news studio.

There is also considerable talk among WFLD staffers about the possibility of moving “Good Day, Chicago” co-anchors Anna Davlantes and Corey McPherrin to the station’s midday newscast if the ratings for their three-hour portion of “Good Day, Chicago” don’t begin to show some major improvement soon.

Both McPherrin and Davlantes have shown up on the midday newscast often enough recently to make some staffers wonder if management could be seriously contemplating such a move.  

But other sources say that Davlantes and McPherrin have merely been filling in on the midday news program, and management has no plans to move them permanently.

Contact Lewis Lazare:  LewisL3@aol.com