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A group of business owners largely responsible for how the village has marketed itself in recent years is trying to give the community’s image a minor facelift with the help of a new ad agency and sleeker, more direct messages.

Members of the Madison Street Merchants – or M2 as it’s often called – say Forest Park will still be touted as a hip, up and coming suburb, but the message will be sent with less clutter and to new audiences. Chris Guillen is a Madison Street photographer and M2 advertising committee member who has worked previously with A5, the newly hired agency. Fletcher Martin, A5’s creative director, produces “clean and simple” work, according to Guillen.

He criticized the previous advertising strategy as too busy for trying to jam the name of every M2 business into each piece.

Readers who page through the upcoming issue of Chicago Magazine will see a full-page ad created by A5 as part of the latest marketing strategy. The color picture features two women sharing a dessert at a trendy restaurant while a black-and-white offset of a 1950s vintage TV dinner sits in the background.

“Admit it, you’re just not good at cooking. You need some Forest Park in your life,” are the words meant to call prospective customers to this suburban community.

Connie Brown, another committee member, said the ad campaign A5 did for the Gap clothing stores was impressive.

The consensus at an M2 meeting held April 9 was that in this new advertising concept the committee had come up with a winner. Guillen said the message in the ads is clear.

“Why are you sitting at home, alone and bored?” he said. “Get out of the house and meet with your friends in Forest Park.”

Mary Jo Parker-O’Hearn, from Deedee and Edee, came up with the foundational concept of Forest Park as a gathering place. Martin and A5’s principal John Harris said the pitch has to be of Forest Park as a destination, not just individual businesses.

“They are young and creative and they just got it,” Brown said of the agency.

The target age group for the ads is 24 to 40. Guillen said he’s hopeful that future ads will appeal to an even larger demographic.

“People like to come to Forest Park for dinner,” Guillen said. “Families like to come for all kinds of things.”

All of the photos will be taken by Guillen at Forest Park locations.

The point Guillen wants to make in the ads is that Forest Park is about relationships. To that end, the graphics will never have one person shopping at a boutique or dining alone in a restaurant. Although he will not have more than three people in a photograph because it clutters the image, Guillen’s pictures will emphasize Parker-O’Hearn’s basic concept of Forest Park as a place for friends and family. In that sense Guillen said A5 is not using gimmicks in this campaign, and that the images reflect reality.

M2 members were also excited about the flexibility of the language in the ads and are optimistic this will be useful in marketing the village this summer on Chicago Transit Authority trains along the green, red and blue lines. The phrase “you need some Forest Park in your life” is expected to be featured prominently in those ads.

“They know how to get the point across, and they do it not so directly,” Guillen said. “It’s concept driven. It makes you feel like ‘I want to go there.’ It’s fun, it’s intelligent, and it’s edgy.”