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Olympic Bid Split Chicago, Local Agency
By: Jeff Louis
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In case you were unaware, the competition for the 2016 Olympics host city has ended, and the waiting is over.

It was a controversial ride, but Chicago got knocked out immediately, and Rio de Janeiro was bestowed the honor, marking the first time a South American country has been chosen to host an Olympic Games. The news is bittersweet in Chicago: According to recent polls, the city was divided almost equally, as 54% supported the bid, and 46% did not.

The city's debt, added traffic on over-burdened streets, and additional taxes proved the main contention points that kept Chicagoans from supporting the bid. The knowledge that recent host's were still paying off Olympic-sized debt factored into the minds of discerning voters.

Skepticism rose to national levels last week when President Barack Obama and wife Michelle agreed to attend the final stage of the Olympic pitch in Oslow, adding their political weight to a field filled with political and royal notables: a king and queen (Madrid), a prime minister (Tokyo), and another president (Rio).

Competition between Rio and Chicago proved especially fierce, and accusations of unfair play were voiced by both sides. One of the larger controversies involved a Web site, Chicagoans for Rio 2016. The Chicago Olympic Bid team accused Rio of setting up the site (which makes sense), but it turned out it was an inside job.

Meanwhile, a Chicagoan named Kevin Lynch confessed he's the man behind the cheeky ChicagoansForRio.com, the Web site that's been anonymously trashing Chicago's prospects in the past couple of weeks.

Okay, so he was from Chicago. No biggie. The real impact of the story is that Kevin Lynch is one of the top creative execs at Energy BBDO's Proximity Unit. Energy BBDO and owner Omnicom were both in support of Chicago's bid for the games, providing creative services as part of their endorsement. Plus, there's the fact that Energy BBDO's largest client, Wrigley, supported the city's bid.

This led to a lot of drama, as Energy BBDO released a statement to Ad Age last week:

"I want to be clear: The agency is and has been fully behind the Chicago 2016 bid," said Energy BBDO CEO Tonise Paul. "Our clients are aware of our position and understand the situation. The individual acted on his own accord without the agency's knowledge."

Lynch, the "instigator" of the controversy, said he stopped supporting the Olympic bid for Chicago when Mayor Daley's statements that Chicagoans wouldn't be taxed for the games were reversed. (Chicago already carries the heaviest sales tax in the Nation at 10.25%.)

Now that the host city's been decided, it will take at least a week to discover what becomes of Mr. Lynch.

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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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