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Media Agencies Are Bullish on Chicago


Lately, a whole string of media agencies are falling in love with Chi-Town.

As some marketers, especially heartland brands, see Chicagoans as more representative of the American consumer than those who live and work on the coasts, agencies like Mindshare, OMD, Spark and BPN are all expanding their Windy City outposts while smaller shops like Empower are establishing offices there, too.

“If you are a brand like Ace Hardware or Famous Footwear, you know who your consumer is,” said Spark CEO Chris Boothe. “Some clients like that don’t want to work with New York agencies because they see them as out of touch.” Spark’s Chicago office has grown from 98 employees in 2012 to nearly 300 today.

Middle-American realness isn’t the only reason behind this embrace. Cincinnati-based Empower sees the “potential to partner with up-and-coming independent creative agencies that don’t have media expertise,” said CEO Jim Price.

Others see Chi-Town as a burgeoning tech hub, with Google, Motorola and various startups establishing a presence there.

“There’s so much innovation happening here,” said Liz Ross, North American president of BPN. “Chicago should rank among [bigger cities] and should be a place where agencies have a robust presence.”

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