Pitzel is Jacobs Agency’s new ‘creative in residence’

Bernie Pitzel, Flora Caputo and Tom Jacobs of the Jacobs Agency

Bernie Pitzel has made a move.  Yes, word will go out today that Pitzel — a true veteran of the Chicago ad scene — has changed his work address to the Jacobs Agency/Chicago, where he will have the VERY Pitzelian title of “creative in residence.”

That, of course, is a new position, and Pitzel will now work alongside the agency’s executive creative director Flora Caputo.

Pitzel has moved to the Jacobs shop from Schafer Condon Carter, where he was a top creative presence for some three years. 

Pitzel became part of the creative team there after he sold SCC  his distinctive creative boutique Romani Bros. Denny Hebson, Pitzel’s creative partner at Romani Bros., will remain a creative director on the SCC team.

Jacobs transforming to general market from BtoB

Pitzel brings decades of experience in the Chicago advertising  trenches to the Jacobs shop, which was established in 1997.  The agency’s founder Tom Jacobs worked at Leo Burnett and then Flair Communications, before starting his own shop.

The Jacobs Agency has worked mostly on business-to-business accounts for much of its existence.  The agency began to branch out into consumer advertising in recent times with the addition of the Turano Baking Co. account.  The shop debuted a new campaign last spring for Turano’s 50th anniversary.

Among other things he brings to the table at Jacobs, Pitzel will give the agency more depth in the general market advertising sector.  Asked in an interview Monday what kind of accounts he would like to work on that he hasn’t worked on so far in his multifaceted career, Pitzel responded “I don’t think there is anything left I haven’t worked on.” 

And we don’t think he was kidding.  At least not much.

While he and Hebson were a team at Romani Bros., they had particular fun working on the now-defunct American Trans Air (ATA), an airline hat began as an Indianapolis-based charter vacation carrier.  Pitzel was the creative mind behind what became one of ATA’s most memorable tag lines —”On ATA You’re On Vacation.”

Romani Bros. folded into a more stable entity

In its last years as a viable entity, ATA tried  — unsuccessfully, as it turned out — to morph into a scheduled carrier with a business class cabin with many flights to major business destinations.  That ambitious strategy ultimately brought down ATA as the airline industry went into a tailspin due to high-fuel prices and the airline industry’s rapidly-shifting dynamics and mergers.

While the shop was a going concern, Romani Bros. also was the agency of record for Rotary International, an account that gave Pitzel and Hebson an opportunity to do some interesting branding work for a major global service organization.

But in the end, Pitzel and Hebson decided it would make more sense to fold themselves and their talents and resources into a larger, somewhat more corporate (and stable) entity, Schafer Condon Carter, and in 2008, the deal was consummated.

But when that knot was tied, we immediately wondered how long the marriage with SCC would last, given Pitzel’s naturally antsy personality and his itch to somehow keep recreating and rebranding himself.  Now we know how long  — about three years.

For Pitzel, the adbiz is about people he works with

Pitzel said that for him the ad business in large part is no longer about what accounts he gets to work on, but the people he gets to work with.  And he has found a group at Jacobs, he maintains, that he likes a lot, especially Flora Caputo, the exec creative director with whom he will work most closely. 

Caputo too, as it turns out, put in time at SCC.  And the admiration appears mutual. “Bernie’s presence at the agency attests to the fact that we’re doing something right,” said Caputo.

Pitzel is arriving at the shop in the wake of a major rebranding effort at the Jacobs Agency.  The shop’s new Web site uses a nifty visual to present the agency’s rethought philosophy.

The Jacobs shop’s online home page shows a tangled ball of thread that becomes magically untangled — as if to suggest Jacobs exists to help companies untangle and simplify their marketing needs.  It’s an effective visual, and Bernie Pitzel will be part of the team that helps implement the new agency strategy.

It may not be a vacation-like experience for Pitzel all the time at Jacobs, but we suspect he will do everything he can to make sure everyone is having a blast.

Contact Lewis Lazare at: LewisL3@aol.com