They're trying to avoid calling it a wake, but the folks planning what is being billed as a "reunion" of former JWT/Chicago employees are hoping for a big turnout and a joyous celebration of a large agency that once was part of a vibrant, thriving Chicago advertising community. But, as we all know, that community is hardly thriving any longer, and JWT/Chicago, for all intents and purposes, is dead -- having shrunk to a mere gaggle of people servicing a single, smallish Illinois tourism account.
Ralph Rydholm, a former JWT/Chicago executive who was at the helm of the shop's creative department in the far more robust 1980's, is helping organize the reunion set for Aug. 28, at the Envent Studios, 344 N. Ogden in Chicago. Rydholm tells us more than 225 people have already paid for tickets to the event (oh how people love to recall the good ol' days), but he would like to see even more once-familiar faces at the party. For more info, visit the www.ripjwt.com Web site.
For many of the attendees who no doubt have moved on, the Aug. 28 celebration will just be an opportunity to party and socialize. For those of a more reflective bent, the occasion also will be an opportunity to consider just how much the advertising business has changed in the past couple of decades -- change that has brought about a situation that is grim and getting grimmer. Even Rydholm told us today he is shocked by the startling downturn in the business here in Chicago that he's watched happen in recent years.
But he still wants the Aug. 28 reunion to be a predominantly upbeat affair. And we have no doubt plenty of former JWT/Chicago party animals will materialize to make sure Rydholm's wishes are realized.