Chicago advertising often gets the cold shoulder. Here, then, are some pats on the back.

February 2, 2009


Given the grim climate in Chicago (the weather, the economy, the government), it’s high time we celebrate the unheralded, quality work coming out of our city’s many agencies. We hear a lot about what’s wrong with the people, places and things in the Chicago advertising community. I want to go another way. Hold to the good, as our pastor likes to say.

In this spirit, for the next few days, I’m going to feature campaigns from local shops that deserve praise… not punishment.

They may not be famous or ground breaking. But they are good. Join me as we give a warming hug to the City of Big Shoulders!

Let’s start with Chicago’s landmark agency, Leo Burnett. Having worked there 16 years, it’s also my “alma mater.” LBCO has been in the news for the same kind of struggles besetting most agencies and their clients: shrinking advertising budgets, layoffs, and turbulent change in business practices.

Still, the work they have done on Allstate deserves kudos for its great sureness during these worst of economic times. Actor Dennis Haybert calms and guides we jittery consumers, looking us right in the eye. He is a patriarch in the best sense of the word. Indeed, when he asks if we “are in good hands,” I know I/we could be with Allstate.

I’ve secretly admired this iteration of Burnett’s long running “Good Hands” campaign for some time now. Secretly, because I know it’s not a creative showcase. But I’m being childish. This advertising deserves a medal of honor for it’s steady hand, especially in this climate. Take a look at the attached commercial about surviving a recession. The voice over says it all: “It’s back to basics and the basics are good.” So is this campaign.


8 Responses to “Chicago advertising often gets the cold shoulder. Here, then, are some pats on the back.”

  1. Ann said

    Thanks, Steffan. Nice posting today. If this were all you did here in your blog, you’d be doing the city, and us creatives, a great service.

    Now if someone could just write in with the cw/ad credits.

  2. Jeanie said

    Wow! Thanks for the props. Credits:
    CCO: John Condon
    ECDs/Writers: Jeanie Caggiano, Charley Wickman
    Writer: Josh Mizrachi
    CD: Mikal Pittman
    AD: Greg Nobles
    PR: Ray Swift
    Music: Jira
    Director: Jim Gartner
    Fabulous Allstate Clients:
    Lisa Cochrane
    Nancy Abraham
    Jennifer Egeland

  3. Avid da al said

    From SourceTV

    Leo Burnett Chicago
    Art Director: Greg Nobles
    CD: Jeannie Caggiano
    CD: Mikal Pittman
    CD: Charley Wickman
    Copywriter: Josh Mizrachi
    Sr Producer: Ray Swift

  4. SRP said

    Thanks, Ann.
    More like this to come.
    and yes, if people know the credits, please post them here.

  5. The above Allstate ad is very nicely done. I haven’t liked most of the other spots in the campaign, though.

    I think there is a big difference between ads that blandly say “we care” and ads that actually make an emotionally-resonant connection.

    “Back To Basics” does the latter.

  6. SRP said

    Fair enough. I like entire campaign regardless for the reasons I’ve cited in my piece. I also think the personality for Allstate is an improvement over any other insurance company in North America.

  7. Amen. This is a smart campaign; a cold boot of common sense delivered in a stylish way from our first African American president.
    Having worked at Leo myself for a short stint, I wonder how much it’s changed since the old “when to take my name off the door” days. Still have apples? Big black pencils? Star reaching? CRCs? And so on?
    I hope so. It had a culture all its own, I’d hate to think it’s melted like May snow.

    BTW, for a blow by blow critique of Super Bowl ads, come see

  8. […] year, in this blog I praised Allstate’s long-running ad campaign featuring actor, Dennis Haybert. His patriarchal […]

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