5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare


5 Questions with...Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare

By Jeff Nuich
CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications Contributor

February 3, 2010

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite weekly local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weekveteran marketing journalist maven who covers the local happenings in the Chicago business landscape for the Chicago Sun-Timesa man known for his bow ties and dry withere are 5 Questions withLEWIS LAZARE!"

BIO: Lewis Lazare writes the Media and Marketing Mix column and popular blog for the Chicago Sun-Times and He previously was a staff writer at the Chicago Reader, an alternative weekly newspaper where he created and wrote a column called Culture Club that covered the business of the arts in Chicago. Lazare also was an associate editor at Crain's Chicago Business, one of the first of the nation's city business newspapers. At Crain's, he covered the media and entertainment industries and wrote a column on advertising. He got his start in business reporting as a Chicago correspondent and critic for Variety, the trade newspaper famously known as the bible of show biz. Lazare graduated from Dartmouth College and received a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

1) Lewis, with the Super Bowl coming up this weekend, the focus isnt always on the game. For millions of viewers and the business world in general, a huge focus will once again be the great anticipation for this years array of Super Bowl ads. In your opinion, is the cost of a reported 2.5-2.8 million to advertise a :30 spot, which is actually down from 3 million a year ago, really worth it reach an audience these days? Longtime Super Bowl sponsor staples such as Pepsi have even declined to participate this year due to that enormously high price tag.

Lazare: It can be worth that much to buy into the Super Bowl, especially if youre a company that doesnt have a particularly high public profile and wants one fast. Another reason to buy in is to give a new product launch a big boost right out of the gate. But established companies like Pepsi that have been to the Super Bowl and done that many times, have decided that they can put the money to use more effectively in other ways.

2) Since youre the man with the inside scoop of the ad world, have you seen any previews of this years batch of Super Bowl ads yet and whats the buzz this year on what we can expect from advertisers (same old, same old, or is there a knockout punch out there that we dont know about yet)?
Lazare: Yes, Ive seen work from several advertisers that will be in the big game this year, and more are being previewed each day now. Unfortunately, I havent seen anything yet that has hugely impressed me. But its still early. I must say, however, that Ive noted a sad decline in the level of creativity in much of the Super Bowl work in recent years. With the economic tough times, advertisers have bee more reluctant to spend big the past year in particular, which may make this yet another Super Bowl when we wont find much to wow us.

3) Whats your personal favorite Super Bowl commercial of all-time? We wont be offended if you dont say its the Thanks Mean Joe Coca-Cola ad from 1979!

Lazare: After a while, even the great Super Bowl ads begin to blur in memory! But if pressed, Id pick two of relatively recent vintage as certainly among the best one deeply moving and another more lighthearted. I think the 2002 Budweiser commercial that showed the iconic Clydesdales bowing in respect to the victims of Sept. 11 was a great example of how advertising, at its best, has the concentrated power to touch us all. Advertising can also make us smile, as did the more recent 2008 Super Bowl spot from Coca-Cola that featured a giant Charlie Brown parade balloon proving victorious in a battle for an inflated Coke balloon floating over the concrete canyons of New York City. Wonderful story line. Great visuals. And most importantly, the perfect musical underscoring to set the tone for the whole delightful escapade.

4) The state of Chicago radio has seen tremendous change over the past two years when it comes to talent-driven stations and shows. Do you think the days of on-air personalities making over a 1 million are officially over and, a follow-up question, what advice do you have for radio station managers in town to hold onto their audience going forward?

Lazare: Absolutely, the days of the 1 million talent are over. Even a lot of the talent that used to make those astronomical sums admit that. The economics of radio no longer allow for that kind of money to be paid. My advice would be for radio managers to make certain they know what they want their station to be and then be very smart about making sure everything about the station reflects and plays to that core essence.

5) Finally, back to the Super Bowl, who are you picking to win the big game?

Lazare: Im going with the Indianapolis Colts. Its always fun to see a team like the New Orleans Saints finally make it to the big game. I know a lot of people will be rooting for them to do in Peyton Manning and the Colts. But when Manning is on, the Colts seem unbeatable. And I dont suspect Manning and his team will be in Miami to do anything but win.

BONUS Anything youd like to promote Lewis? readers want to hear about it

Lazare: Just stay tuned for my big post-Super Bowl assessment of the best and worst ads seen during the game.

Lazare LINKS:

Chicago Sun-TimesLewis Lazare columns archive

Chicago Sun-TimesLazare Media and Marketing Mix blog

Lewis Lazare on Facebook

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

Bring your own stuffing: Jazz swat Bulls on Thanksgiving Eve

On the second (turkey) leg of a back-to-back, the Bulls didn't bring much energy in a 110-80 loss to the Utah Jazz. 

Instead of diving into the nitty-gritty of the uninspiring effort, though, we decided to just serve you up a Thanksgiving meal of highlights. Here are the top blocks from Wednesday's game: 

5. Derrick Favors is no Rudy Gobert -- that we know -- but imitation is the highest form of flattery. 

4. Are Bobby Portis chase down blocks the new LeBron James chase down blocks? Let's not get carried away... yet. We'll chalk it up to just a real nice hustle play by Bobby. 

3 and 2. Speaking of hustle plays... Jonas Jerebko isn't exactly known as a dominant defender. He sure made it hard for the Bulls on what should of been an easy fast-break bucket in the third quarter, though. First, he silenced Kris Dunn's reverse. Then, he met Lauri Markkanen at the rim and sent the rookie packing. The Baby Bulls 2.0 can blame it on fatigue, but they just handed Jerebko a highlight tape for years to come.   

1. In fairness, Jerian Grant had to get up a shot as the quarter was coming to a close. It is as vicious as it looks, though.