Someone Didn’t Get the Memo

The world will likely know by the end of Friday whether the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be hosted by Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo or Madrid. How Kevin Lynch will take the news, however, remains to be seen.

Lynch started Website Chicagoans for Rio 2016, which uses both humor and economic statistics to root against Chicago’s bid. The homepage includes: a look at crime in Chicago’s Washington Park area, site of the proposed Olympic stadium; pictures of 21 of the 22 venues used when Athens hosted the 2004 Summer Games lying unused; a mention that Montreal is still paying off its debt from hosting the 1976 Olympics; meters featuring the city debts of Chicago and Rio de Janeiro (the latter reading zero); and a game allowing users to match the Olympic host with its estimated budget overrun.

The site is put together well, with solid information and an easy-to-digest layout. So what’s the problem?

Well, as reported, the problem is that Lynch is the top creative at Chicago ad agency Energy BBDO‘s Proximity Chicago unit. And Wrigley, Energy BBDO’s largest client, is a major backer of Chicago’s bid to host the Olympics. In addition, Energy BBDO and parent company Omnicom Group are supporters of the Chicago Games.

Lynch wrote a blog post explaining his motivation for starting Chicagoans for Rio 2016, and highlights include:

We were initially supportive of Chicago’s bid, and were (and are) confident Chicago would host a great Games. But while Chicago does things well, it also does them consistently way over budget. As we saw the bid process unfold, we simply lost confidence this would be any different.

So we created a site to let our feelings (and the feelings of other Chicagoans) be known—to add a moderate voice to the debate that says, all things considered, we’d just as soon let Rio have the games, thank you. The site obviously tapped into an existing resentment about the bid among Chicagoans. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here today at this standing-room-only press conference. You in the business casual?

We launched anonymously to draw more attention to the site. While frustrating for some people, it was inarguably a successful strategy. We were under no delusion that we would stay anonymous. I’ve been wearing a Chicagoans for Rio T-shirt and sweatshirt for the last couple months, so we weren’t exactly hiding. And considering how often some of us drink, we were bound to catch a case of verbal diarrhea. Seriously, we’d make awful spies.

And Energy BBDO CEO Tonise Paul told

I want to be clear: The agency is and has been fully behind the Chicago 2016 bid. Our clients are aware of our position and understand the situation. The individual acted on his own accord without the agency’s knowledge. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.