FUNERAL UPDATE: Advertising icon Steve Brodwolf passes at 68

(Steve Brodwolf SOURCE: Facebook)

The Chicago advertising community was dealt a heartbreaking blow this morning upon learning beloved advertising staple, Steve Brodwolf, had died. He was 68.

The multi-talented art director, turned photographer and painter, was discovered by his daughter, Sarah, Sunday morning at his residence 1400 N State Pkwy. No cause of death has been released yet.

The son of Don and Ruth Brodwolf, Steve was born in Hamilton, Ohio in 1953. At Father Stephen T. Badin High School, hee earned his nickname, “Box Car,” from one of his coaches based on his outstanding play at Offensive Tackle for the Rams.

He attended the Central Academy of Commercial Art in Cinncinati to hone his design and conceptual skills.

Steve was an agency vet and part of the golden age of advertising in Chicago. He began his career as an art director at FCB Chicago in 1980 and then moved to Needham, Harper and Steers (before becoming DDB Needham in 1986).

He stayed there for almost 10 years before returning to FCB as a Senior VP Creative Director. He would later be promoted to Group Creative Director. You could find Steve’s touch on a variety of brands over the years including Kraft, McDonald’s, Coors, Applebee’s, Altoids and so many more.

After freelancing for a number of years in Chicago and New York, Steve launched Blu-Sly ideas.

According to childhood friend Steve Blount, Steve was decidedly opinionated and he brought that attitude to his work every day. “It’s no longer about merely breaking through, it’s about authentically fitting into their lives. Brands needs to be in more places, available anytime and anywhere. We connect with television, print, radio, video, promotions, viral events, banner ads, online experiences, social networking and mobile,” Brodwolf thumped on his website.

During the course of his career, Steve was chosen and featured in the Art Directors Annual and received a Gold medal in the International Film Festival for art direction, as well as a Clio recognition for a commercial for Rubbermaid.

Later, Steve showcased his other talents by bringing his beautiful photography to Facebook and Instagram every morning where he captured Chicago life on his daily 4-mile run. It became something so many of his friends, family and followers became used to.

Anyone who knew Steve also knew of his deep love for The Beatles. His towering presence was always prepared to tell you a thing or two about John, Paul, Ringo and George. Here is he crossing famed Abbey Road.


The Chicago Community Reacts

As word spread of Steve’s death this morning, so did posts of sorrow, comfort and condolences from his friends. Here is a sampling:


Former CEO and co-owner of Big Deahl Productions, Inc, Rosemary Ferreri told Reel Chicago, “We (Steve Brodwolf) worked together in advertising, he was on the agency side and we were on the production side. Over the years, there never was a time when Steve didn’t greet me with a smile, stop to talk to me if I was at any agency he was working with or take me to lunch to just hang. This is so rare in advertising.”

Childhood friend, Steve Blount, had this to say, “He always had a kind word. Whatever he felt he said. I can’t think of a bad thing to say.

I knew Steve more as a co-worker when I lived in Chicago, but I became closer to him when I moved to LA to work in the film industry. Steve was a genuinely good guy with an optimistic thing to say 24-7. He will be missed. This article only scratches the surface of the kind of man Steve was.

He is survived by his daughter Sarah, son, Jackson and his sister, Lisa. Details of a memorial service have not been disclosed yet.

Reel Chicago extends our love and prayers to Steve’s family and friends.


A funeral mass for Steve Brodwolf will be held at Faith, Hope and Charity Church. 191 Linden Street, Winnetka, IL. September 2, 10 am. A reception to celebrate his life will be held from 4 – 7 PM at Wolf Point East 313 West Wolf Point Plaza in Chicago.


Colin Costello is the West Coast Editor of Reel 360. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @colinthewriter1