The death of an ad man | Bleader

The death of an ad man

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The press is never sure of what to do with a suicide. Paul Tilley, creative director of DDB/Chicago, one of the city's largest ad agencies, jumped to his death last Friday evening, February 22, from an upper window of the Fairmont Hotel. But there was nothing in the papers until Tuesday, four days later, and although Lewis Lazare wrote at length in the Sun-Times, the Tribune carried a much briefer obituary and allowed a comment from his wife, "Life is complicated, and Paul was a complicated man," to represent everything about Tilley that went undiscussed.

Needless to say, by then the bloggers had been at it for days. Just three days before Tilley died, superspy had ridiculed him at Agency Spy for a memo he wrote touting the agency's new motivational campaign, "One Degree More." Now superspy posted again, this time to offer his "heartfelt and true condolences" and to try to persuade himself and the world that he wasn't responsible. "My words may sting," said superspy to superspy. "They may also applaud, but a blog post about an agency’s new mantra does not cause an individual to step into the unknown." Besides, "I have been attacked in my own life. . . . I know the pain of exposure, of things most cherished coming to light far beyond anything I have written about Paul Tilley . . ." And for the benefit of any reader who had yet to forgive him, he pleaded, "Selves can be bruised in ways far beyond the reach of a blog. It is hubristic to think that a blog made a man leave his family behind. It belittles Paul and what his life was actually about."

There have been dozens of responses and they fall into three general groups -- the ones hailing Tilley, the ones excoriating Tilley, and the ones telling superspy he's pathetic. It's a glimpse of the ad world in anguish.

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