Lewis Lazare’s media columns to run in the Reel

We’re back.  Just like that.  Ruth Ratny, a longtime chronicler of the Chicago advertising, post production and film industries, has asked us to write a column for ReelChicago.com.

So we are. We spent the last 10 years writing about advertising, radio and television for the Chicago Sun-Times. It was a period of major transition in those industries in Chicago. There is a continuing story here and, of course, we want to be part of reporting on it.

The past decade was certainly not a golden one for Chicago’s ad industry. And for the last couple of years, the city’s broadcasting industry has struggled as well, dealing with the impact of a brutal economic downturn.

The broadcasting business is turning around, but the advertising business, at least in Chicago, has been much slower to do so.

We will focus a lot on the advertising business, because it isn’t getting the attention it deserves locally.

But we will delve into culture on occasion and television, where, among other things, there is the ongoing effort to turn around the ratings-challenged news operation at Fox-owned WFLD-Ch. 32. Plus ABC-owned WLS-Ch. 7 has just debuted one of the most ambitious local programming efforts in quite a while —  “Windy City Live” with co-hosts Ryan Chiaverini and Valerie Warner and a rotating cast of side-kicks to bring added texture and surprise to the proceedings.

For the past couple of months, while we were taking a breather, Chicago’s ad industry has chugged along.  Maybe not robustly so, but at least it’s kept on chugging.

We were tracking two big developments when we left the Sun-Times. One, the agency review for Sears, is done, with McGarryBowen the apparent victor.  That, coupled with the agency’s Burger King account victory just days later, marks McGarryBowen, as one of the hottest, fastest-growing ad shops in the nation.

What’s more, MB is still believed to be in the running for the United Airlines account, another super high-profile piece of business.

The other big development remains in progress, but probably not for much longer.  We refer, of course, to the huge S.C. Johnson account review, said to be worth upwards of $1 billion in billings. Incumbent DraftFCB/Chicago, Ogilvy & Mather and Energy BBDO/Chicago, which has partnered with Omnicom sibling TBWA/Chiat/Day, are believed to finalists for the business.  Final pitches were completed last week, sources said.

From the beginning, most informed observers believed Draft’s chances of prevailing were slim.  If the account does depart Draft after near 60 years, it will be a huge blow for the local shop.

As for us, it’s back to the marketing and media beat.  We like breaking news, but profiles and perspective pieces will have their place in the mix as well. We hope to keep it interesting. Relevant. Readable.

And fun. Why not?

Lewis Lazare’s first ReelChicago column will appear Thursday.