AICP: Utopic, DDB, Cutters, Highdive rep Chicago in Next and Post Awards

‘Mothers’ from Utopic and Sandro Miller

The 2021 AICP Next and Post Awards debuted virtually this week in New York during AICP week, recognizing creative excellence in new and emerging media. Chicago post-houses and agencies did take home wins during the ceremonies.


The post-house had a big win last night at the AICP Post Awards. Craig Lewandowski was honored with a win for his Black Lives Matters Piece “Mothers.”  Celebrated in Best of Midwest:  Cause Marketing/PSA, the pieces, shot by Sandro Miller, were a labor of love. While working on a long-form documentary telling the stories of black men and woman killed by police, the editor used the outtakes to create a potent trailer.  Watch below:

“Sandro had a photoshoot set up to capture these mothers’ beauty and resilience in still form.  He was so moved by their stories that he decided to shoot some interviews with them as well.  When I saw the footage, it was absolutely heartbreaking.  But these mothers were all so committed to working through that pain in order to tell the stories of their children.  The pain never goes away; and their anguish in trying to find the words just knocked me over, leaving this pit in my stomach.  There was so much power in their search for the right words; for where to begin, that I just knew we had to use it somehow.  I found the perfect track from Asche and Spencer and Sandro brought on copywriter Brandon Crockett to write the minimal, yet powerful copy, which sums up what this all about – that it’s on US to do something,” Lewandowski told Reel Chicago.

Miller added, “Working with these women brought tears to my eyes, realizing their loses. Craig Lewandowski never fails me as he always finds the perfect way to bring my storytelling to life.  He is the best as he’s sensitive and creative at the same time and that’s exactly what this story needed.”  

DDB Chicago

The agency won in the Integrated Category for its acclaimed Miller Lite holiday spot, “Farwell, Work Holiday Parties.” The brand memorialized people’s cringiest moments in an art exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) by renowned visual artist, Alex Prager, titled “Farewell, Holiday Parties.”

The exhibit consisted of hyperrealist statues of people you might spot at a typical office gathering – and might not miss too much last year.

ALSO READ: AICP: 2021 Most Next Award goes to FCB


Cutters and agency Highdive also were honored in the Comedy Editing Category for Rocket Mortgage. The agency enlisted popular comedian Tracy Morgan for two spots. Morgan took the buyers through a myriad of wild, crazy and hilarious scenarios that clearly displayed how “pretty sure” simply isn’t an option.

The first, titled “Pretty Sure,” featured Morgan, Guardians of the Galaxy’s Dave Bautista and Liza Koshy to illustrate that from murder hornets to buying a home, certain is better – way better. You can’t be pretty sure:

The sponsor reel screened prior to the Next Awards was created by The Colonie, with music by Noisefloor. The AICP Next Awards is part of the AICP’s suite of juried competitions, which also includes the AICP Post Awards, presented on July 27, and the AICP Show: The Art & Technique of the Commercial, which will be presented on July 29.

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