Friday, May 31, 2024

Dear friends,

In 1988, Christine Pratt, a young marketing professional, took a chance and opened a marketing firm. She called it Pratt Marketing Group. This company was built on a core group of values that weren't about being the loudest, or the flashiest, or the biggest, or the fastest. Arguably Midwestern in nature, the organization adopted values that had more to do with being consistent, reliable, intelligent, and steady than the reputation that other, traditional Madison Avenue advertising firms were known for. These values would go on to serve this agency (and its clients) well for nearly four decades. When Chris Pratt passed away in 2009, the agency rebranded as 88 Brand Partners - an homage to her legacy and a promise for the future.

During the company’s tenure, this agency has accomplished some truly amazing things. In the early 1990’s, through our relationship with Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants and several of their restaurant concepts, the firm created their iconic Frequent Diner Club program that is still popular with their diners today. Through our work with Discover Financial, we launched their first ever ‘5% cash back bonus’ campaign. We were NorthShore University HealthSystem agency of record for almost fifteen years, developing all the traditional and digital advertising for the organization, including their sports sponsorships with the Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bears, and the Olympic Games. And, for only the third time in 100 years, we rebranded American Veterinary Medical Association, making it more modern and reflective of the dynamic industry it is today. These are some of many ways the work done by this firm is still felt today.

A lot can happen in 36 years. The economy ebbed and flowed; there were devastating recessions, and invigorating times of prosperity. Numerous changes that many agencies could not withstand. Technology boomed, processes revolutionized, and consumer behavior shifted a thousand times. The world experienced a global pandemic that transformed how the business would operate moving forward, but 88 Brand Partners remained - ever-changing, yet always staying true to those core values set when the firm started way back in 1988.

Today, 88 Brand Partners has found itself at a critical point in its history and, sadly, one we cannot move past. Affected by the consolidation in several of our key industry categories, limitations placed on non-minority-owned businesses, and the increasing pressures to lower costs, maximize efficiencies, broaden offerings, and do more with lower budgets have created a business situation where we could not move forward without drastically compromising our values and limiting our ability to develop the quality of the creative product that we’ve built our reputation.

And so, as difficult as this moment is, I believe now is the time to responsibly close both 88 Brand Partners and its sister organization, QNA Group, and watch as the world continues to change and evolve, and our industry with it.

What an honor it has been for me to lead this organization over the last decade. Chris Pratt's shoes were big ones to fill, and this experience has truly been a life-changing and life-learning one.

Whatever my future may hold, I will take all that I have learned here with me: my experiences working with some of the smartest and most creative minds I've ever had the pleasure of working with, plus the support and trust of our clients, which I always regarded with the utmost respect.

I will forever be changed by my years spent among the wonderful team, the wonderful clients, and the wonderful work that was developed at this organization - which has steadily, effectively, and passionately thrived for the last 36 long, wonderful years. What an honor, indeed.

With gratitude for the past, and excitement for the future,



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Michael McGuire
President & CEO
88 Brand Partners & QNA Group