It’s ADDY Week in St. Louis

Yesterday morning, while walking around the track at the Des Peres Lodge, I learned that ADDY week begins tomorrow.

If it weren’t for Walt Jaschek, I would have been completely oblivious that ADDY week is even taking place, culminating with the ADDY awards this Thursday evening. Thankfully, Walt was seeking a little exercise as well and he asked if I was going to the big event on Thursday.

“Uh, what?”

So I went to the Ad Club’s website which has gotten a nice makeover since the last time I visited and looked into the upcoming events for ADDY week. http://www.addyweekstl.com/

Unfortunately, with most of the activities taking place during the day, I’m probably going to have to pass on the speaker forums – though I’d love to sit in on the developing social media strategies panel and still might try to make that happen.

But I do plan on being at the ADDYs on Thursday evening. I want to see the best work that’s being done in St. Louis.

I’m hoping this year print makes a rebound and that there will actually be some finalists on display. I hope the TV reel makes me jealous. I hope the radio reel does the same. I want to see fully integrated campaigns that work across the board.

I want to see the celebration of St. Louis’ creative community on display. There are a lot of good firms doing all kinds of great work and it’s fun to see that work recognized. It’s also fun to visit with people who I don’t see often enough anymore.

It amazes me how much advertising has changed since I first got into the business – back when writers worked on manual typewriters, art directors did their layouts on drawing boards, audio engineers used razor blades to cut commercials and some editors were still using movieolas, cutting and splicing scenes (that was my favorite room in the basement of Technisonic).

But the celebration is still for the same thing – the big idea. And big ideas should be celebrated.

So thanks, Walt.

I’ll see you on Thursday.

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Puckett rocked the boat

I was saddened by the news I heard this past week on Facebook that Steve Puckett had died.

I read his obit in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch and it all seemed so trivial.

About three inches of copy space to sum up a life. That’s about the norm for most obits – where you grew up, where you worked, and who are your survivors.

Of course, an obit can’t begin to really tell a life story. It’s just a notice – a sad notice, that someone has passed on.

I didn’t know Steve very well at all. My main encounters with him generally were at awards shows. His agency, The Puckett Group, seemed to come out of nowhere and quickly began dominating the St. Louis awards scene in the late 80s and most of the 90s.

I went back into my archives where I have a few old Flair Awards booklets – which later became the ADDYs and tried to find some of his work because I know that many times, work from my Kenrick or Hughes days went up against work from The Puckett Group and it seemed most times, they got Gold and we got honorable mention.

I remember meeting with Steve one time at his agency – he was intense, he was a little bit aloof – but I found that he was also extremely personable and passionate about the work that he and his colleagues did. Somehow, The Puckett Group fell on some hard times – it could have been his refusal to compromise and wanting to always stand up for the work they did. I don’t know.

I remember being surprised when he was named the Creative Director at the Brighton Agency – a spinoff from my old Kenrick days – so I continued to keep track of him from a distance – and the last I remember hearing anything about him was when he was let go from Brighton in 2003.

It wasn’t until this week that I heard his name again. Even in his obit, I learned a little more about him. I knew he loved sailing but had no idea he was Commodore of the Carlyle Yacht Club.

I’m sure he was as passionate about sailing as he was about creating great advertising.

His death reminds me that time is short. And we’re not necessarily remembered for the campaigns we create but rather for the person we were. Steve was a game changer. He left his mark on the St. Louis advertising community. His passion for creating great work inspired others to do the same.

That memory lives on.

Steve rocked the boat quite often during his career.

We should all strive to do the same.

R.I.P., Steve.

 

Not on company time

Sign ups for the St. Louis Ad Club Fall Golf Classic on Wednesday, September 12 are down.

Way down. So far down that if you play, your odds of winning a closest to the pin or longest drive prize are heavily in your favor.

It was only about 10 years ago that this event used to sell out. Golfers from different agencies would show up, ready for an afternoon on the links. It was a chance to treat your client or reward a few employees for their hard work with a fun round of golf. Vendors and suppliers to those agencies also showed up in force. It was always a great time.

That’s no longer the case. I’m definitely generalizing here, but it seems that most agencies and marketing communications firms simply have no time for golf during normal work hours. Maybe they feel that by letting some employees play a round of golf while the rest of the staff has to keep on working just isn’t fair. Maybe they’re right.

Maybe they feel that treating a client to a round of golf and spending a few hours away from work has no value. Or maybe the client can’t justify an afternoon that isn’t fully devoted to improving market share or generating sales. And all those vendors that used to play no longer seem to be playing. They were the support arm of the St. Louis ad community but as our ad community has dwindled, so has participation.

You can no longer write it off. It’s now a cost of doing business and it seems that most agencies and most vendors can’t justify that cost.

Not only is there the cost for playing, there’s also the cost of paying someone to not work for four hours. A twosome and you can double that. A foursome – sorry, there will be no Christmas bonuses this year because we let four employees play in the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic.

I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish that the St. Louis advertising and marketing communications community was absolutely thriving. I wish that membership in the Ad Club was expanding rather than contracting. But wishing won’t make it so.

Maybe the whole idea behind the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic has no meaning in this day and age. Does it contribute to the bottom line? Probably not. Is it exclusionary, slighting those in the company who don’t play golf? Possibly so. Does it do anything to improve company morale or improve client-agency relations? Possible – but if you’re going to treat a client to a round of golf, why not do it where your potential competitors aren’t in the foursome behind you?

Put it all together and you can see why signups are down. Next to the ADDYs, the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic used to be the second biggest fundraiser for the Ad Club, allowing the club to bring in guest speakers and help fund other events. It’s not anymore.

I play in my parish Men’s Club golf outing every year. It sells out every year. It’s a great chance to enjoy an afternoon away from work, be with friends and see people you don’t get to see often enough. Same basic principle as the Ad Club golf outing with one notable exception.

It’s not on company time.

So what do you think? I voiced my opinion. What’s yours?

Let’s hear how we could make the Ad Club Fall Golf Classic more interesting, more fun and above all better attended. Or at least let’s hear why you’re not playing.

And finally, if you’re interested in signing up, sponsoring a hole or simply coming out for the dinner at Far Oaks Golf Club, details can be found on the Ad Club website at: http://www.adclubstlouis.org/events/1472/st-louis-ad-club-fall-golf-classic