Panel discussions, creative awards and one lifetime achievement. The New York Festivals comes to Chicago.
July 24, 2009
“And then when I was nine…”
“I was told I’d be the only bald guy.”
The New York Festivals International Advertising Awards launched its World Tour showcasing the World’s Best Advertising™ in Chicago on Tuesday, July 21, 2009. Yours truly spent a better part of the day participating in the festival -first as a panelist during an afternoon discussion and later as an audience member during the actual ceremony.
Personally speaking, there were three highlights: the panel discussion, actually winning an award, and the Lifetime Achievement accolade given to famed commercial director, Joe Sedelmaier.
Let’s start with the Sedelmaier prize. If you’re in advertising and ignorant about whom this man is shame on you! Do some digging. In the eighties, Sedelmaier was widely considered to be the premiere director of funny. His fast talking Fed Ex guy and Clara Peller’s “Where’s the beef?” commercial for Wendy’s are icons of the form. There were others: a “Russian Fashion show” mocking the brutal sameness of fast food, a Southern Airlines commercial depicting coach class as a Jewish ghetto. Many of these can be found online. I’ve attached one below.
As was acknowledged by Sedalmaier’s son, JJ and guest presenter, Bob Garfield from AdAge, the thing Joe did better than anyone was finding and using REAL people. Very real people. Often older and comically unattractive, Joe’s cattle call was welcome respite from the very beautiful and mostly fake actors representing most advertising during the glitzy Reagan era. When I started at Leo Burnett, everyone –and I mean everyone- wrote (or tried to write) in the brutally funny style that Joe Sedalmaeir made famous. Good to see him being recognized.
The panel discussion, entitled “Is craft dead?” was about whether or not the aesthetic quality of creativity suffered given the influence of social media, the recession and other mitigating factors. Internet wag, Alan Wolk moderated the group. Other panelists included the Chief Creative Officer of Element 79, Dennis Ryan and Tribal DDB’s Managing Director, David Hernandez. We covered a wide range of topics, including viral videos impact on TV commercials, crowd sourcing (good or evil?) and even the Zappos RFP fiasco. I hope the audience got as much out of it as I did.
After the discussion, panelists were interviewed for a segment on WCIU TV’s “First Business.” If you’re surfing channels next Saturday morning, try not to hurl your Cheerios.
Euro RSCG Chicago took home a Silver medal for Valspar paints. This integrated campaign continues to be our creative front-runner at my agency. Bravo team!
Had fun visiting with the many Burnett people attending the ceremony. My beloved, old agency won a handful of prizes, including a much-deserved medal for Hallmark Card’s “Brother of the Bride.” I adore this commercial and, frankly, the entire long-running campaign. Hallmark and Burnett have been making these beautiful long-form stories for decades. If craft is dying elsewhere it’s alive and well here:
The many other winners can be found on their website: New York Festivals
Finally, a special shout out goes to NYF’s Gayle Mandel. Lovely woman, the green ensemble she donned for the ceremony was damn near worth the price of admission!
That’s me in the corner…
Last week Alan Wolk wrote about the unpleasant phenomenon of schadenfreude, where one relishes the pain and suffering of others. He was particularly concerned about it as it occurs in Ad Land. It was a strong piece of writing. So much so, Agency Spy posted it on their popular site.
The ensuing comments were a revelation. One reader, by way of example, took umbrage at something I had written… In my recent posts about the collapse of JWT Chicago I’d taken some heat from an anonymous blogger. Childishly, I chose to fight back using my own ugly language and ideas.
Bad idea times two. First, I should not have used vulgar discourse against one of my readers. After all, I’d invited him on to comment. This is no way to treat a guest. Secondly, I should not have tried to explain or defend myself on Agency Spy.
What was I thinking? In recovery programs the troubled soul is taught, among other things, to promptly admit it when he is wrong and to make amends as soon as possible. Good medicine for someone who acted impulsively…twice. So, that is what I’m doing. I’m sorry for my bad behavior. I became what I despise: a slime ball on the Internet! As amends I vow not to allow vile commentary on my blog ever again or to spew it myself.
I’m no more or less thick-skinned than any other creative person, which is to say not very. I’m still learning the protocol of blogging, if not being a good person, and this was a great lesson.