A Cartographic Examination of Ad Agency Density

by | Feb 26, 2004

A good segment of the Chicago ad industry exists in a handful of interconnected buildings on North Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive. In the main cluster–111 East Wacker, 233 N. Michigan, and 225 N. Michigan–you can take an elevator up to Frankel, Ogilvy, Y+R, Burrell, Slack Barshinger, or Cramer Krasselt. Nearby on Randolph, Element 79 and DDB share an address (200 East) and fortress-like scraper of sky.

Leo Burnett, Upshot, and Zipatoni are within earshot. Cross the bridge to the north, and you have BBDO, Draft, FCB, Laughlin Constable, Fusion Idea Lab and Campbell Mithun, all within a few blocks. Then, as in any healthy system, there’s interesting activity on the fringe–Point B and Hadrian’s Wall in River North, Tom Dick and Harry on Ravenswood in Lake View, and Storandt Pann Margolis in a converted theatre in historic downtown La Grange.

This dense concentration of “black turtlenecks” has the attention of the mainstream press. Sun Times columnist, Lewis Lazare covers the ad community on an almost daily basis. It’s a good read and an excellent source for information.