Only Chi agency on Burnett’s Cannes list is Burnett

Dean Winters drives home Allstate’s “Mayhem” campaign

THE 2011 CANNES LIONS INTERNATIONAL ad festival fast approaches.  And as it has for many years, Chicago ad shop Leo Burnett has compiled its list of the top 40 spots and other advertising projects expected to compete for top prizes at what is generally considered the world’s most prestigious ad festival and competition.

Only one Chicago ad shop, however, shows up on the 2011 list. And perhaps to the surprise of few, that is none other than Leo Burnett itself, which has put a trio of – its “Mayhem” spots for Allstate in the 29th slot on the predictions reel list.

Burnett chief creative officer Susan Credle has said repeatedly in interviews in recent months that she considers the “Mayhem” campaign to be one of Burnett’s best efforts of the past year.

Certainly the work has gotten tons of coverage.  People tend to love or hate the “Mayhem” commercials depending on their stance on advertising that uses the fear factor to get the viewer’s attention.  We prefer other approaches, but we’ll see what the Cannes jurors think of these TV spots that personify the concept of mayhem in some scary ways to push people to sign up for Allstate insurance.

As for the rest of the commercials on the predictions reel, we haven’t watched every one.  But among those near the top of the top 40, we noticed that compelling music choices seem to be making a comeback in a big way.

“Slo Mo,” a spot for Carlton Draught” from Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne, Australia, for instance, makes good use of a familiar operatic aria “Nessun Dorma” with cleverly-rewritten lyrics.

Curiously, the top-ranked spot on the Burnett predictions reel, a Heineken commercial called “The Entrance” from Wieden + Kennedy in Amsterdam, has a rhythm and flow that reminded us a lot of Wieden’s Old Spice commercial that was a big winner at last year’s Cannes competition.

Noted British ad artist Paul Cohen joins DDBTHE BRITISH ARE COMING!  The British are coming! Actually a couple are already in place and more are on the way to DDB/Chicago, now under the creative leadership of Brit Ewan Paterson, who arrived from London about a year ago.

Paterson has been slowly revamping the shop since he came on board.  When he got there, DDB was in desperate need of a creative overhaul.  Certainly the job isn’t fully done yet, but Paterson appears to be counting on a few of his British pals to help ignite a new creative spark inside DDB.

Could it be that Paterson has now fully surveyed the advertising creative scene in America and decided the Brits simply do it better? Draw your own conclusions.

Just this week, Paterson announced he has brought on board Paul Cohen in the newly-created position of head of art.  In his new role, Cohen will bring a touch of “art-directional magic” to the work being done on all accounts at DDB, according to Paterson. Cohen previously worked at AMV/BBDO London, as well as Mother/London.

Meanwhile, two more Brits, Matt Collier and Wayne Robinson, could be landing at DDB in a matter of weeks.  We haven’t seen a lot of Collier’s and Robinson’s work, but if one of their newest efforts is at all indicative of what they can produce, it could be good news indeed for DDB.

We refer to a just-launched commercial from CHI & Partners/London for TalkTalk, a British broadband and phone service. The spot shows a wide of array of tiny doll house figures using TalkTalk services to reach out and connect with each other.  

Aside from the spot’s hugely distinctive look, the commercial soars thanks to the choice of the emotionally-charged “Unchained Melody” for the musical underscoring.

“WINDY CITY LIVE,” the new live 9 a.m. talk show produced by ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7 and hosted by Ryan Chiaverini and Val Warner, is now in its second full week on the air.

WLS management and “WCL” producers know there is still work to be done on the show, which, in the early going, hasn’t proved able to hold on to a lot of the audience that religiously watched talk diva Oprah Winfrey in the same time slot.

Ratings for “WCL” have plunged about 60 percent from where they were just last month for the highly-hyped final editions of “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”  And the “WCL” numbers so far are down about 33 percent from a year ago when Winfrey show reruns aired at 9 a.m.

As Chiaverini and Warner notch more shows, the all-important chemistry between the two of them may improve. The producers also need to work on bringing a sharper focus to each segment of the hour-long show. Right now, the talk too often seems to ramble from topic to topic in an unsatisfying way.

WLS wanted to debut “Windy City Live” as soon as Winfrey ended her 25-year run to give the station the slower summer months to work out all the kinks.  If the right adjustments are made, more viewers may find they want to watch by the time the fall season rolls around in September.

Lewis Lazare was the Chicago Sun Times advertising and media columnist for 11 years. His column ReelChicago column appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Contact: