Escape Pod named top small Midwest agency by Ad Age

At Ad Age’s July 19 Small Agency of the Year Awards in Nashville, Chicago-based The Escape Pod won Gold in “The Midwest Small Agency category.”

The independent agency recently added Chervon’s Skil and Skilsaw brands to its roster, which also includes South Eastern Grocers and a2 milk.

Founder and Creative Director Vinny Warren, whose memorable concepts extend all the way back to Budweiser’s popular “Wassup” campaign, says that, “Winning the ‘best anything’ is always nice. But the best advertising agency award is great because that’s an award for our people and our culture. It’s an award for what we’ve done together.”

New Seed Media Arts director helms Novartis spot

Two weeks after signing with Roy Skillicorn’s Seed Media Arts, Director Tim Abshire was awarded a job for New York-based Klick Health and their pharmaceutical client Novartis.

The Wrestler features a gaudy, bespandexed grappler as the personification of persistent stomach pain and gastrointestinal issues who refuses to leave a suffering man alone.

The spot features an interactive display banner and social media posts which direct interested viewers to a “What Am I Wrestling With” website.

WPP lay-offs at Ford Agency

Global Tem Blue was formerly known as Team Detroit

In a report by Adweek, 100-150 Global Team Blue employees were laid off by parent holding company WPP.

Employees affected include both lower-level staff and agency leadership, including Chief Media Officer Betsy Lazar, the former GM exec who joined GTB in 2013. Locations include GTB’s Dearborn, Michigan, headquarters as well as its London and Shanghai offices.

“(GBT) has always adjusted and adapted to how best to serve the client,” said a WPP spokesperson in the Adweek report. “Our relationship with Ford is strong, robust and working across six continents.”

Long known as Team Detroit, the WPP network rebranded itself in February 2016.

Brown Girls goes for Emmy Gold

Chicago-produced web series Brown Girls, fresh off the news of its pickup from HBO, has been nominated for its first Emmy.

The show and its creators, Fatimah Asghar and Samantha Bailey, were nominated for “Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series”. Other nominees include Broad City, Fear The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul.

Lays Potato Chips moves from Energy BBDO to…

Go figure. It was only in 2015 that Lays Potato Chips was at Energy BBDO, Chicago. Now — after a review that included TBWA\Chiat\Day, CP+B, Deep Focus, and R/GA’s Austin office — the chips are back in The Big Apple.

BBDO, New York handled the business since 1991, until losing it to another Omnicom shop, GS&P, in 2007. Energy BBDO picked it up and did interesting, fun with work with Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head.

According to Chicago Business Journal and AgencySpy, neither BBDO nor Frito-Lay/PepsiCo have responded to queries regarding the brand.

Linda Johnson Rice joins Tesla Board

Billionaire Elon Musk recently hired former Johnson Publishing Company Chairman and CEO, Linda Johnson Rice.

Linda Johnson Rice

But the appointment comes at a time when the historic magazine Ebony is under fire from the National Association of Black Journalists for allegedly failing to pay freelance writers, reportedly owing as much as $200,000.

The beleaguered magazine, which recently laid off staff and relocated its editorial operation to Los Angeles, was accused of not making good on a deadline to pay journalists who have been waiting up to a year to be paid.

Johnson Rice, 59, on Tuesday declined through her office to comment to the Chicago Tribune about the dispute.

Ebony Media Chairman Michael Gibson told Chicago Inc. that the company aims to pay its debts to all freelancers by the end of the week.

SAG-AFTRA come to terms with NPR

SAG-AFTRA has reached a tentative agreement with National Public Radio (WBEZ 91.5fm Chicago) on a new three-year contract covering 400 union news and programming employees at the nonprofit radio service.

Terms of the deal reached were not disclosed.

In a Deadline report, a SAG-AFTRA representative said the deal provides for “salary increases and effectively repelled efforts to erode union protections and institute a two-tiered salary system.”

The most recent contract between SAG-AFTRA and NPR, which provides the daily national news programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered, expired June 30. The two sides agreed to another 24-hour extension following the end of a two-week extension that expired midnight Friday.

Outfest awards Chicago feature

"Signature Move"The nation’s leading LGBT film festival, Outfest announced its winners and a Chicago feature, Signature Move, is bringing home the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature.

The film, directed by Jennifer Reeder, is described as “… a delightful, well-acted and incisive romp into Chicago’s multi-cultural neighborhoods and a moving exploration of the unique bonds between mothers and daughters.”

Chicago is not “Second City” when it comes to film

According to a new report in Crain’s Chicago, The Windy City is not even third. As Ruth Ratny reported in the beginning of the year, Illinois’ film revenue hit a whopping half-billion dollars in 2016, a 51 percent increase over the previous year.

But with all the production that takes place here, including Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” TV shows, the report states that the total is not enough to put Illinois at even number three behind California and New York.

That title goes to Georgia, which generated $2.7 billion during the fiscal year that ended July 1.

Nearly 20 major studios and production companies have opened offices in Georgia, including Marvel. And there’s this little-known show called AMC’s The Walking Dead.

“The state of Georgia has the most robust (incentive) program,” Christine Dudley, director of the Illinois Film Office said in the Crain’s article. “They incentivize anything that walks (ahem zombies) across the street.”

Georgia requires a minimum spend of $500,000, has no caps on salaries and provides a tax credit for both resident and nonresident workers on a set.

Illinois’ “more modest” incentive applies only to state residents and caps the tax credit for salaries at $100,000.

Adler adds new marketing star

Ryutaro "Ryu" MizunoLewis Lazare reports in Chicago Business Journal, that The Adler has tapped Ryutaro “Ryu” Mizuno as the planetarium’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications.

In his new role, Mizuno will become the Adler’s senior marketing strategist, responsible for stewardship of the Adler brand internally, as well as within the Chicago community and beyond. He will report to the Adler’s president and CEO Michelle B. Larson.

Follow Colin Costello on Twitter @colincostello10.