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DDB/Chicago struggles to survive

Two years ago, Paul Tilley, the chief creative officer at DDB/Chicago jumped from a window at the Fairmont Hotel to his death. Two years later -- nearly to the day -- DDB/Chicago shows the signs of stress that Tilley's confidants wish he would have shown. Signs that the largest U.S. office of Omincom's DDB may be in serious trouble

DDB/Chicago is the powerhouse behind some of the memorable campaigns in past years, winning an Emmy for the Bud Light "Swear Jar" commercial. Other Bud Light efforts include "Real Men of Genius" and "Whassup," among others. The Chicago agency also created the Energizer Bunny, McDonalds' "I'm Lovin' it," and numerous efforts for Wrigley. 

The Chicago office has been without a creative leader since Tilley's suicide.  Rudderless, the agency once known for its creative prowess has foundered; State Farm, one of the agency's stalwart clients moved a large part of the account's creative work to DraftFCB, and Anheuser-Busch rejected all of the original Super Bowl spots submitted by DDB/Chicago.

Yesterday, AgencySpy published that a "bloodbath" had taken place in the agency's creative department, handing out numerous pink slips in the creative department. The cuts came directly following Omnicom's release of its fourth quarter numbers, showing a 15% loss in profits. 

Questions have also been raised by various sources about the future of advertising in Chicago. If DDB/Chicago falls, it would be the second such blow to the Windy City; JWT announced that they were closing their iconic Chicago office last year.  

Comments

  • Some guy 4 years ago

    They also lost the Extra gum account.

  • Puzzled 4 years ago

    The future of advertising in Chicago? Now that's a big stretch! We just came out of the worst recession ever. And what's the first thing advertisers do during a recession? That's right, they cut advertising spending. Does it make sense? No, but that's what they do. Draft/FCB is doing very well and many others are doing ok (especially when you consider the recession). And some clients are not allowed to move their advertising out-of-state (think Lottery, Tourism, etc.). Are they going to find a capable agency in Peoria? I think not.

  • Puzzled 4 years ago

    The future of advertising in Chicago? Now that's a big stretch! We just came out of the worst recession ever. And what's the first thing advertisers do during a recession? That's right, they cut advertising spending. Does it make sense? No, but that's what they do. Draft/FCB is doing very well and many others are doing ok (especially when you consider the recession). And some clients are not allowed to move their advertising out-of-state (think Lottery, Tourism, etc.). Are they going to find a capable agency in Peoria? I think not.

  • Jeff Louis 4 years ago

    It was a simple allusion to the fact that two of the agencies in Chicago that for years were THE ticket in town, the places where kids from the Midwest wanted to work, are seeming to struggle. Bnet also posed the same general question. I appreciate your insight. DDB/Chicago's CEO and U.S. CEO seem to have contradictory goals...never a good sign. Good insight on cutting...people and marketing are always the first on the chopping block despite studies that prove pulling back marketing dollars in recessionary times can be fatal. No, they won't go to Peoria...but they might go to Miami, New York, Omaha, Kansas City, etc. Thank you for your comments.

  • Bad reporter 4 years ago

    This story really demonstrates a poor grasp of the issues, which makes sense because it is a no-reporting rewrite of 3-4 stories about this that have been published lately.

    First of all: DDB Chicago isn't closing as long as it works on McDonald's, a massive account for a company that is doing quite well.

    Second: The "bloodbath" you refer to (but clearly did not check on) was 15 people, and directly related to the loss of Wrigley.

    Yes, DDB is not doing well. It is shrinking, to be sure. But by raising the specter of a closure you just reveal how little you know about what business remains in that agency.

    McDs is arguably still the single best account to have in this town, and whatever other issues they have, they still have it.

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