Young & Rubicam Chicago Hustles to Rebound After 3 Losses

CEO Matt Anthony says the market is still important strategically

Young & Rubicam remains bullish about its Chicago office despite a trio of account losses there and the review of its signature Sears account.

Since January, the office has lost, Bonefish Grill and Dave & Buster’s, which collectively supplied about $4 million in revenue. At the same time, Sears is reviewing creative responsibilities on its Kenmore, Craftsman and DieHard brands, which Y&R has handled since 2005. Revenue on the Sears business is $3-4 million.

Y&R is defending in the Sears review—still in its early stages and expected to continue into next year—and North American CEO Matt Anthony is optimistic about his shop’s chances. “Retaining the KCD business is important, no doubt,” Anthony said. “So, we’re putting a lot of energy against it.”

Account losses sometimes force big agencies to rethink their presence in certain markets, including San Francisco and Chicago where JWT all but closed in 2009 after losing Kraft and Nestlé. Y&R Chicago, however, still has sizeable clients like BMO Harris Bank, Famous Footwear and Hilton brands Hampton Inn and Embassy Suites. Also, Anthony hinted that a packaged-goods brand was on the way, though he declined to name it. The office, which opened in 1933, has 125 staffers.

Bigger picture, Chi-town as an ad market is “really important to us,” Anthony added. “And the attitude of Chicago marketers and the attitude of people in Chicago fits Y&R really well. So, it’s important strategically for us to grow Chicago, absolutely.”

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