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Recently in David Stevenson Category

DSC_1432.JPGThe year 2009 has been mostly about whining in the advertising industry. We all the know the basic tale of woe by heart by now. No new business at many agencies. Clients cutting back. Losses piling up. And on and on. But you won't see many long faces around at least one Chicago ad agency, namely Two by Four. No indeed. In fact, Two by Four chief creative officer and founder David Stevenson threw a big bash for his staff last week, and then was kind enough to send us information about all he did for his employees to celebrate Two by Four's successful 2009.

So what does Stevenson know that so many others in the ad biz don't? Apparently he knows how to manage staff and his cost structure to sustain a 20 percent profit margin. Not bad. Even in a very down year.

To celebrate his ad business acumen and his staff, Stevenson presided over a "Let's Make A Deal"-themed bash for employees on Friday, Dec. 11th, at which he gave away no less than $20,000 worth of prizes, including a trip to New York City to see a Broadway show (What? Chicago theater isn't good enough for Stevenson's folks??), a trip for two to Las Vegas (another cultural hotbed!), and two tickets to the Final Four in March. And oh yes! A contribution of $1,000 towards the purchase of a pup of the prize winner's choice. Stevenson said the pup prize was by no means the most popular of the lot. The big showcase prize, we're told, was a solid silver bar. On top of all the prizes won, each staffer also got a bonus check.

Stevenson told us his last round of layoffs happened last February. Since then he has added staff, returning total head count to about where it was prior to the February cuts. For those tired of working for ad agencies that have become little more than glorified -- and sharply downsized -- sweat shops in recent years, Stevenson seemed to suggest to us that his agency aims to be anything but that. "We've handed out bonus checks for every one of the 13 years we've been in business," notes Stevenson.

"Party!" Now there's an exhortation that is sure to get the attention of a lot of local ad agency professionals who have suffered through a lot of miserable weather and agency downsizing in recent weeks. And there it was at the top of an open house invite emailed to us today. The man who invited us (yes, even us) to the office-warming event next week is David Stevenson, who is apparently anxious to show off the new digs of the agency he founded called Two by Four/Chicago. Among the shop's most high-profile clients, locally anyway, is the Chicago Bears. Two by Four, as Stevenson will tell you, used to be the lead agency for the Chicago White Sox, but then they weren't. And we'll say no more. It's a sensitive subject for Stevenson.

Still losing the White Sox account hasn't stopped Stevenson and his agency from moving on up and around in the local ad world to new offices at 10 N. Dearborn St., in the heart of the Loop. Several Chicago ad industry sources who have visited the offices told us how cool the new Two by Four space is. There's even reportedly a Sun-Times newspaper honor box at the entrance. How neat.

Though he always seems to be busy with one client or another, Stevenson may have a little more time over the next few months to enjoy his new office space, because he has passed responsibility for organizing the next Chicago Creative Club awards show to two new leaders: Matt Brennock of Fusion Idea Lab/Chicago and Liz Ross of Tribal DDB/Chicago. We know Stevenson worked hard to make a success of the 2008 awards show honoring the best creative work from Chicago ad agencies, and the event really was a vast improvement over the previous several sorry CCC shows. Now let's hope Brennock and Ross can match what Stevenson made happen.

In the meantime, let's party!

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Lewis Lazare has written the Media Mix column for the Chicago Sun-Times for the past seven and a half years.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the David Stevenson category.

David Selby is the previous category.

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