Now we know things are really bad in the Chicago ad industry. Bernie DiMeo, one of the most colorful members of the local ad community for the past 22 years, said Monday he is in the process of shutting down his ad shop, DiMeo & Co./Chicago, which for most of last year employed a staff of 11. DiMeo said the revenue stream simply wasn't strong enough to justify carrying on. "Things hadn't been good for a while," said DiMeo.
The biggest blow apparently came about 16 months ago with the loss of the local Popeyes restaurant co-op account. Though there had been the occasional new business win since then, they weren't enough to make up for a big loss. For the past 16 years, DiMeo also was the agency of record for the Chicago Bulls. Steve Schanwald, executive vice-president, business operations for the Bulls, said that in the short term, the plan is keep the Bulls advertising account in-house. "Long term, we'll see," added Schanwald.
DiMeo said he expects to remain connected to the advertising and public relations industries in some fashion, but he is still sorting out what he wants to do and how he wants to do it. "I should know in about 60 days," he said. In the heyday of DiMeo & Co., no adman embodied the fun spirit of the good ol' days more than Bernie DiMeo. He knew a good party when he threw one, and he was as adept at self-promotion as he was at the art and craft of promoting clients.
But in the end, all the fun stuff couldn't pay the bills. We doubt anyone will come along anytime soon that can match Bernie's joie de vivre. A loss indeed.