Panel discussions, creative awards and one lifetime achievement. The New York Festivals comes to Chicago.

July 24, 2009

Steff interviewed
“And then when I was nine…”
Steff Panel
“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!

yet again on Twitter

2 Responses to “Panel discussions, creative awards and one lifetime achievement. The New York Festivals comes to Chicago.”

  1. Alan Wolk said

    Thank you Steffan.

    Your contributions to the panel were greatly appreciated and I definitely got a lot out of hosting such a stellar group.

    100% agree about that Hallmark spot. Possibly my favorite one out of the campaign and zero borrowed interest: the punch line is all about Hallmark and could be from no one else.

    Sedelmeier’s stuff holds up as well which is a real testament to his genius as comedy can very quickly seem dated.

    Great finally meeting you in person and thanks for the post-love.

  2. gayle mandel said

    The panel discussions were were brilliant, Chicago’s top creative minds sharing their vision, passion, and sense of humor…fantastic. BIG thanks to everyone. Glad you mentioned Bob Garfield, his intro really set the stage for Joe’s work. Joe’s such an icon and for those young creatives out there who have never seen “Soviet Fashion show” hilarious. We interviewed Joe the next day for NYF .TV and he said he couldn’t find a woman big enough so he cast a man to play the fashion show’s MC. very funny.

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