In early April, JWT CEO Rosemarie Ryan informed the staff of the Chicago office that the location would be closing. There was one remaining shred of hope that could keep the shop open: the Illinois Board of Tourism — an account that was up for review at the time of the reported closing. Sources close to the matter tell us JWT has retained the account, meaning the Chicago location will remain open as a field office.
I was able to dig up a document from the state of Illinois services bidding Web site, which states,
“The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) is giving notice of intent to award a contract resulting from the Illinois Bureau of Tourism/Marketing Commmunications Agency RFP 22016279 to JWT Chicago.
“JWT Chicago will provide advertising services to assist DCEO in the planning and execution of marketing and advertising programs to promote Illinois as a tourism destination. The marketing and advertising programs will encompass, but not be limited to, domestic and international tourism. The responsibilities will include (but are not limited to) the following: (click here for the details).”
We hear about 15 to 20 staff will remain in the office to service the account.
In a blog post published earlier this week about the apparent lack of leadership at the Chicago office of Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago Sun Times columnist Lewis Lazare wrote, “It has been apparent for some time that (O&M’s) game plan was pretty much like that of the sorry management team of the about-to-die JWT/Chicago. In other words, let the whole thing sink into the muck and mire due to inertia and neglect.”
Lazare may have gotten ahead of himself in saying, “about to die,” as it seems the shop has turned fear of death into some much needed inspiration. Kudos to you, JWT’s ibot team — you know who you are.
More: “Update: JWT Chicago Closed”