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Turn your house into a billboard, get free mortgage

A digital mockup of Adzookie's painting plan. (Adzooki)

Startup advertising firm Adzookie has latched on to a high-profile way to publicize itself: by turning homes into massive billboards. In exchange, Adzookie says it will pay the house owner’s mortgage every month for as long as the home stays painted.

Adzookie launched the offer on its website Tuesday — and by late afternoon, the company had already received more than 1,000 applications, according to Adzookie CEO Romeo Mendoza. One even came from a church. Get the full story »

Walgreens, Chase, TiVo warn of email breach

A data breach at one of the world’s largest providers of marketing-email services may have enabled unauthorized people to access the names and email addresses for customers of major financial-services, retailing and other companies.

While no financial information was compromised, the major concern is that the emails and names could be used for “phishing,” that is, phony emails asking unsuspecting consumers to divulge information such as account numbers, log-ins or Social Security numbers. Get the full story »

McDonald’s to hire 50,000 in April

To nab the attention of top-flight job candidates, McDonald’s is tackling the image of a “McJob” with a weeks-long advertising and public-relations campaign leading up to April 19, when McDonald’s Corp. plans to hire 50,000 store-level employees.

Local Offer Network raises $1.5M

Local Offer Network, a Chicago technology company that aggregates daily deals from providers such as Groupon, has raised $1.5 million in a Series A round led by Matthew Pritzker and IllinoisVentures. Get the full story »

Crayola’s ill-fated colored bubbles anger parents

A child with green and orange fingers from Crayola Colored Bubbles. (Tribune photo)

It took nearly two decades of toil and trouble before scientists at toy giant Crayola successfully brewed up the secret formula that lets kids blow bubbles in vivid colors. The bottles went on sale in February, at $10 for a pack of three. Shoppers have snapped up several hundred thousand packages.

But now some angry parents may burst Crayola’s bubble. The problem: when the bubbles pop (or the solutions splash), they leave a neon-bright — and, parents complain, often permanent — mess. Despite the large type on the front of the bottles that says “Washable.” Get the full story »

Abercrombie retreats on push-up bikini for girls

Abercrombie's Ashley padded bikini top. (Abercrombie)

Abercrombie & Fitch retreated on marketing a push-up bikini top to girls as young as age 7 after a rash of criticism from parents and bloggers.

The clothing retailer changed the online description of the bikini tops at its Abercrombie Kids website from “push up triangle” to “lightly lined triangle.”

The company also posted a statement on its Abercrombie Kids Facebook page saying, “We agree with those who say it is best ‘suited’ for girls age 12 and older.” Get the full story »

Last episode of ‘Oprah’ to be May 25

Winfrey’s Chicago-based Harpo Productions confirmed Friday that the final original episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” will air May 25. Winfrey announced live on the show in November 2009 that she would end its run after 25 years. She since has launched cable’s Oprah Winfrey Network.

R.R. Donnelley buys Brill’s Journalism Online

Media veterans Steven Brill and Gordon Crovitz sold their company Journalism Online that helps publishers charge for content to printing services firm R.R. Donnelley & Sons Co. R.R. Donnelley did not disclose terms of the acquisition Thursday. Get the full story »

USA Today reinvents itself to cope with Internet

USA Today, a newspaper created nearly 30 years ago to appeal to people who grew up watching television, is revising its formula to try to counter the Internet’s threat to its survival.

The nation’s second-largest newspaper is expanding its coverage of advertising-friendly topics, designing content for smartphones and tablet computers and refreshing the look of its print edition, whose circulation has fallen by 20 percent during the past three years. Get the full story »

Dealed out? Traffic to deal sites dropping

After Gilt Groupies changed the 12 o’clock hour and Groupon made vouchers cool, users may finally be over it all. Traffic to flash sales and daily deal sites has been dropping during the past few months, according to online traffic monitor comScore.

Gilt is down 22 percent since the start of 2011, and Groupon has fallen off 13 percent during the same time period. Though both are still up year over year. Get the full story »

Kraft MiO ads bring in Second City’s ‘Sassy Gay Friend’

Northfield-based Kraft Foods is promoting its new product MiO, which it introduced in February, by running ad spots online featuring a character from The Second City called “Sassy Gay Friend.”

The “Sassy Gay Friend,” who has been featured in various viral videos produced by The Second City, first appeared online in 2010 when The Second City put up the scenes on YouTube. The joke in the viral videos involves famous scenes from various Shakespeare plays — such as Ophelia’s suicide in Hamlet, or the scene in Romeo and Juliet where Juliet is about to kill herself. The twist occurs when the “Sassy Gay Friend” unexpectedly enters the scenes and changes the outcome.

In the new videos for MiO, a Kraft product that lets consumers flavor their water, the “Sassy Gay Friend” appears in a scene from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Get the full story »

Groupon exploring mobile coupons

From BusinessWeek | Chicago-based daily deal site Groupon Inc. is preparing to make its deal-of-the-day business even more local, launching a mobile product that will allow it to offer discounts to subscribers based on their location. The new program it is planning, Groupon Now, consists of two buttons for consumers to pick from: “I’m Hungry” and “I’m Bored.” When users click on one of the buttons, Groupon Now offers up a host of discounted options near the user’s location. Get the full story>>

Groupon to start offering movie tickets

A promotional still for "The Lincoln Lawyer," starring Matthew McConaughey, right. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Groupon launched a two-day national deal Wednesday offering discounted tickets for the upcoming movie “The Lincoln Lawyer,” partnering with Lionsgate in what the studio said was a first for the feature film industry.

“The Lincoln Lawyer,” starring Matthew McConaughey in the lead role, opens nationwide on Friday. Groupon is selling $6 tickets to the film. Subscribers who purchase the deal will get a special code to redeem their tickets on Fandango at any time during the movie’s theatrical run.

Lionsgate said it is the first Hollywood studio to promote a major feature film through Groupon. Movie tickets have been featured on daily deal sites in the past; earlier this month, Groupon rival LivingSocial offered a national deal where consumers could purchase two tickets on Fandango for $9. Get the full story »

Ad exec in NU sex-toy row defends actions on blog

The Northwestern sex toy scandal got another shot in the arm Tuesday  afternoon, as a blog post surfaced that quotes the Chicago advertising executive involved in the demonstration defending his actions and castigating the media for mischaracterizing them.

Jim Marcus, creative director of Tribal DDB, the digital division of DDB Chicago, demonstrated the use of a sex-toy on his fiance in a voluntary assembly after a human sexuality class at Northwestern University this month. The news, first reported in the Daily Northwestern, led to a call  for the ouster of professor John Michael Bailey. Get the full story »

CME Group debuts global ad campaign

From BtoB Magazine | CME Group debuted a global print, TV and online ad campaign called “How the World Advances,” designed to show how its financial services help businesses expand and world economies grow. Get the full story>>