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Bud Light Ad Mirrors Suicide of DDB Exec

One of Bud Light's ads in this year's Super Bowl shows a man falling out of an office window onto the ground below -- an act that bears an eerie resemblance to the suicide of a DDB executive who worked on Anheuser-Busch's ads.

Paul Tilley was executive creative director at DDB Chicago until his death in 2008. He jumped from his room at the Fairmont Hotel. DDB created the current Super Bowl ad, called "Meeting," for Bud Light (see video below). The Chicago Sun-Times' Lewis Lazare calls the ad "the creepiest thing in the 2009 Super Bowl of Advertising."

Tilley's death was especially controversial because he had been the subject of negative comments on a number of advertising blogs in the weeks prior to his death. Tilley had sent an email to his staff in late 2007 asking them to do better work:

"Some of you are doing truly great work -- work that makes DDB/Chicago one of the top 10 most awarded creative agencies in the world," Tilley wrote. "But too many of you are only doing good work. And some of you are doing work that simply isn't good enough." The email was blogged by Adscam and AgencySpy, and readers used the comments board to pillory Tilley. Tilley took his life the following February.

The closeness of the events have led some to wonder whether Tilley felt hounded by the blogosphere. The incident remains controversial in the ad business. This is why it's also so surprising that DDB's Lee Garfinkel is coming in for even more vitriol from anonymous blog readers.

Given the foregoing, what was DDB thinking?

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