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


And you thought he was annoying…

Since we’ve been on the subject of inappropriate online behavior, let’s talk about the Dominoes “Boogergate” scandal. You know the story. Two employees of the pizza chain posted a video of them doing gross things to foodstuffs and then, presumably, selling the goods to unsuspecting customers. Apparently, over 1,000,000 people have viewed the spectacle.

48 hours later, the Dominoes CEO posts a video apology. In it, he soberly details all sorts of firm actions the company will be taking to protect the public and prevent this type of disaster from ever happening again. One measure involves closing the store down and sanitizing it top to bottom. In his latest Ad Age column, Bob Garfield goes into the particulars and offers commentary.

I haven’t seen the offensive video. Don’t care to. I get the gist of it. This sort of video blooms like algae on the Internet.

Frankly, I’m more interested in the Dominoes apology. I understand the need to do something and rather like the idea of a video, but why apologize for the two miscreants? They are morons. Dominoes isn’t at fault. As Garfield points out, these two could have been working at any number of fast food operations. Young men plus minimum wage plus the Internet equals this video. It is not a shocker when you consider what else is readily available on the Internet.

I suppose CEO, Pat Doyle did what he was advised to do. But imagine if he’d been more brazen and real: “When we find these two idiots were not just going to fire them but we’re going to film them eating their own wonderful creations. Put that on You Tube and suck it!”

Of course Doyle didn’t do anything like that. But I bet if he’d consulted with his ad agency, none other than Crispin Porter & Bogusky, he would have gotten just such a suggestion. Imagine…the ultimate agency pranksters taking two vidiots to school and scoring big time points with and for the client.

Ah, the revenge fantasy! Have I not learned my lesson? In my own case (see last post), fighting fire with fire proved to be a bad move. Yet, the urge to go fight club on these two nimrods rages, even in me.

BTW: Not that I need other ways to get into trouble but I’m on Twitter if you care to follow.