Positive Pompous Society feedback, but bashing, too

What would any successful event be without a useful post-mortem?  And that post-mortem is what the Pompous Society eagerly convened Tuesday night at the Farmhouse, a Midwestern craft tavern at 228 W. Chicago Ave. 

Tuesday night was to be the “what did we get right and what did we do wrong” assessment of the party and speech that officially kicked off the Pompous Society late last month.

For those with especially short memories, the Pompous Society is a new organization of advertising folk conceived of by members of the Chicago chapter of the American Association of Advertising Agencies.  The PS’s mission is to help foster a greater sense of community within the Chicago ad industry in general, and among advertising creatives in particular.

We were at that launch event at the Untitled supper club in River North last month, and we can vouch for it having been a great evening in every regard.

Sponge CCO Paul BrourmanBut the founders of the Pompous Society — including Sponge/Chicago’s Paul Brourman, Two by Four/Chicago’s David Stevenson, DraftFCB’s Tom O’Keefe and the indefatigable Vinny Warren of the Escape Pod/Chicago — wanted to hear feedback from others that attended the launch event.

So in a bag of deluxe goodies given to the first 50 creatives who showed up at last month’s party, there was an invite to the aforementioned gathering at Farmhouse. 

According to Sponge’s Brourman, who hosted Tuesday’s get-together in lieu of Vinny Warren (who was away on a shoot), about 25 or so creatives showed up. 

Mostly positive feedback and speaker suggestions

As they should have, those at Farmhouse offered mostly positive feedback about the Pompous Society’s first event, Brourman told us.  And then those in attendance proceeded to name some possible future speakers they’d be interested in hearing at another event the Pompous Society hopes to convene before year’s end.

“They were mostly talking about people of the same caliber as Jeff Goodby,” said Brourman, though he refused to name any names until the Pompous Society organizers get a better feel for whether it actually would be possible to get any of those speakers to talk to the group.

Bob Scarpelli and guest speaker Jeff Goodby. Photo by Deb Klonk.As we have previously reported, Goodby, a cofounder of the esteemed west coast agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, was the debut PS speaker. Brourman admitted it will be tough to schedule similarly effective — and popular — speakers going forward.

“It’s a bit of problem because we set the bar so high by nabbing Goodby right out of the gate,” Brourman explained.

Brourman and the other Pompous Society founders said they will take the speaker names offered up on Tuesday under advisement,  however, as they work on planning the next event.

Down the line, Brourman said he would like to see the Pompous Society open its events to more people with interests similar to those in the Chicago advertising industry. “I think it would be good to talk and learn together,” added Brourman.

“Bash and trash” negativity surfaced

While Brourman is optimistic the Pompous Society ultimately will have the desired effect of generating a greater sense of community in the local ad industry, there has been some unfortunate negative fallout in the wake of the inaugural event.

One of the founders who shall remain nameless told us how disheartened he was at some of the petty, malicious comments that sprung up on various advertising-related Chicago blogs and elsewhere after the first PS party at Untitled.

Some of the remarks that surfaced suggested in various ways that the founders were just using the Pompous Society to promote their own personal and business agendas.  A “bash and trash” mentality is something we’ve certainly experienced before within the local ad community. So to hear of such concerns from a Pompous Society organizer didn’t altogether surprise us.

Some in this town’s ad industry simply want others to fail so they can enjoy watching it happen.  It’s an ugly mindset.  And one we doubt will ever disappear entirely.

Still when good things happen — and admittedly not much really good has been happening for a long time in Chicago ad’s community — it calls for all to get on deck and cheer.

That’s certainly what we’re doing in regards to the Pompous Society. It’s one effort well worth supporting.

As of Sept. 6, I became the Chicago correspondent for bizjournals.com, the robust Website operated by Charlotte, N.C.-based American City Business Journals.  ACBJ has weekly city business journals in 40 markets, and now has added Chicago, New York and Los Angeles to the mix at bizjournals.com.  I will, of course, continue to write my columns for Reel Chicago.

Contact Lewis Lazare at LewisL3@aol.com