Have you heard the one about the disgruntled ad agency?
Admittedly, this joke isn’t widely known, but the story behind a new and prominent billboard advertisement in Forest Park has it all. There’s sex, politics, revenge and even a priest. Well, the church isn’t really part of the joke so maybe we should just explain.
At the village council’s last meeting in April, commissioners voted to unanimously uphold a zoning board recommendation prohibiting the owner of a two-sided billboard from modifying the structure. Specifically, Paramount Media Group Inc. wanted to move its billboard targeting drivers along Interstate 290 15 feet to the west, and increase the height to 110 feet. The hardship, according to piles of consulting reports and expert witness testimony, was that a nearby auto dealership had built a towering display that now blocks the billboard.
According to an attorney representing the advertising firm, Paramount Media had lost some $120,000 in revenue since May of 2006 because national advertisers were no longer interested.
Well, lo and behold, the billboard is commercially viable and Paramount has landed a new advertiser. Atlantis Gentlemen’s Club, a new strip joint in south suburban Ford Heights, is enticing drivers passing through Forest Park to discover the women of this long lost sunken city.
But wait, that’s only part of the punch line.
For months prior to having its request for a variance rebuffed, Paramount donated the east side of the billboard to St. Bernardine School here in the village. In fact, the attorney representing the ad agency, Ron Broida of Naperville, submitted a letter of thanks from the Catholic school’s principal as evidence of what a good community partner the company has been. Photos of other community service type ads featured on the billboard were also turned in as evidence. There was the ad for the Main Street Redevelopment Association, the Maywood Music Festival, a smoking cessation hotline, organ donation, a blood blank and a DuPage County hotline to report illegal gun possession.
To the credit of David Quas, owner of Paramount Media in Naperville, the company appears to have an established history of providing the space to more worthwhile causes. This only further begs the question though, why the sudden change?
Quas did not return phone calls seeking an explanation on the new advertisement but his attorney explained that the strip club is simply part of the local advertising market.
“My client had to make a financial decision in order to lessen his losses in revenue,” Broida said. “He had to go to the non-national market.”
So, the next time you’re driving east into Forest Park along I-290, feast your eyes on the punch line provided by Paramount Media. That is of course, unless you find the joke to be childish and in poor taste.