As Wal-Mart Reopens Review, Windy City Ad Community Lets Out a Groan

Chicago's Agencies Had Hoped $580 Million Account Would Spark a Resurgence

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- In the wake of Roehm-gate, Wal-Mart has gone from being the Chicago ad
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DraftFCB's win of the Wal-Mart account was seen as so important to the suffering advertising community of Chicago that Mayor Richard M. Daley crashed the agency's victory party.

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community's redemption to being a low point in an already-grim 24 months.

Victory party
DraftFCB's victory in Wal-Mart's $580 million review was such a big deal within the moribund Chicago advertising community that Mayor Richard M. Daley crashed the agency's victory party.

And why not? Local ad agencies had seen a parade of major accounts flee the Windy City during the previous year, and a lot of jobs went with them. So a win that let DraftFCB add more than 100 people to its Chicago office -- which pitched the business and was slated to run it -- was a ray of hope.

Was.

In the wake of the ousting of Wal-Mart's VP-marketing communications Julie Roehm, who was said to have acted unethically during the retailer's review, and the subsequent decision by Wal-Mart to pull the business, the agency's Chicago-hiring plans have been shelved. "It's accurate to say we won't be going forward with those hires," a DraftFCB spokesman said after the business loss was announced Dec. 7.

Other lost accounts
Other accounts lost by Chicago agencies to other markets in the past 12 months include the U.S. Army ($1 billion), Kraft Foods condiments ($35 million), Miller Lite ($180 million), Dell Computer ($250 million), Whirlpool ($44 million), Cadillac ($225 million), Hillshire Farm ($20 million) and Orbitz ($61 million).

"It was a really nice hit for the city in a year where there weren't many," said Brian Williams, president-CEO of Element 79. "And just like that, it's gone."
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