Best of the Midwest goes to ‘Like a Girl’ from Leo Burnett

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Best of the Midwest voted on by attendees as iconic ads are highlighted in benefit event for Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis food banks.

The hors d’oeuvres were whatever you had on hand, the tinkling of cocktail glasses was done from afar and the applause was a bit muted, but that didn’t stop the Midwest advertising, production and post production community from gathering for the annual AICP Midwest AICP Awards Show on Nov. 19 – the week before Thanksgiving, just as it’s always been.

Of course, this being 2020, the event was a virtual meetup held via Zoom, but that didn’t dampen the spirits or the ability to celebrate great work and rally around creative, production and post production achievements.

Hosted by AICP Midwest Chapter President Lisa Masseur of Tessa Films, the event benefitted a trio of local nonprofits in the Midwest – The Greater Chicago Food Depository, GLEANERS Community Food Bank in Detroit and VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People), located in suburban Minneapolis. The food banks are designated by the Midwest Chapter as recipients of the AICP Gives initiative, which is also virtual this year. .

Masseur noted that the AICP Midwest Show has always been a way to kick off the holiday season, coming as it did right before Thanksgiving, “and we couldn’t let this opportunity go by without doing something.”

Matt Miller, AICP CEO, noted: “This is a great representation by the Midwest community to allow us to celebrate together.”

And celebrate they did. Attendees were treated to three clusters of past award-winning work from the AICP Archives from the Midwest, in recognition of some important milestones: next year marks the 30th anniversary of the AICP Show, the 20th anniversary of the AICP Post Awards (formerly the AICE Awards) and the 15th anniversary of the AICP Next Awards.

Attendees were treated to a selection of ads culled from these competitions, and then went into Zoom ‘breakout rooms’ to chat about which they liked best, followed by online voting. The spots screened would be familiar to anyone who’s spent time in the business, with classic ads from Hallmark, Budweiser, Jeep, Always, Allstate, BMW, McDonald’s and more.


At the end of the evening, the top vote-getters from each group where pitted against each other for the audience to name the “Best of the Midwest,” which went to the Always “#Like a Girl” spot from Leo Burnett.


Attendees were also treated to online discussions with creators of three iconic Midwest award-winners. Revealing what went into 2002’s BMW Films “Star”, which featured Madonna being ferried around roughly by Clive Owen in an online piece directed by Guy Ritchie, was former Fallon Creative Director Bruce Bildsten, now Creative Director at Best Buy. He recalled some of the production and post details of this groundbreaking campaign with Bob George of Drive Thru.

Laurie Adrianopoli of Carbon FX then led a discussion about the 2015’s “Like a Girl” for Always with Editor Kathryn Hempel of Cutters and Executive Creative Director AJ Hassan, who led the creative on the campaign while at Leo Burnett. And Craig Duncan of Cutters led a discussion about this year’s big winner, Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” spot, with HighDive Advertising’s Chief Creative Officers, Mark Gross and Chad Broude, and Executive Producer Jen Passaniti.

The conversations were lively and informative. Bildsten noted that when BMW Films was made, “there was no YouTube. We had to create our own thing that was called a player.” He also pointed out that several of the directors who shot episodes of the BMW Films series were relative unknowns at the time; one, Alejandro Iñárritu, went on to win the Academy Award for Best Director.

Discussing “Like a Girl,” Hassan noted that the brief from the client was relatively simple: to bring to light a statistic that levels of self-confidence in girls plummets when the reach puberty. She noted that the concept of illustrating how the phrase ‘like a girl’ was often used as an insult came out of a global brainstorming session. Hempel, who was presented with a whopping 15 hours of footage for the campaign’s launch spot, called editing this “a career highlight for me.”

For “Groundhog Day,” HighDive Advertising’s Gross and Broude talked about what it was like to end up on the phone with actor Bill Murray himself, and how quickly the entire spot came together. Shot just the week before the Super Bowl, where it was a runaway hit, the commercial was directed by Jim Jenkins of O Positive and edited by Grant Gustafson of Cutters. Commenting on the speed with which it all came together, Passaniti said “we were building the plane as we were flying it.” She added that the final product – which was finished at The Mill – reflected an enormous level of collaboration. “The magic of the partnership on this was nuts, like I’ve never seen before.” 


When the entire Virtual Show audience took to voting on the ads, the two top winners were Jeep’s “Groundhog Day” spot and “Like a Girl,” with the latter in first place. It was a feel-good way to wrap up the event, with some folks hanging around afterwards to virtually socialize.


“I had this idea a few weeks back to somehow attempt to replicate the experience of our AICP Show,” said Masseur the day after the event. “And I do think it actually went off better than I expected, thanks to the help from the AICP National team, who jumped in to help us pull it off.

“I think our Midwest board, as well as others from the ad community, had a great time seeing past work and especially catching up in the smaller breakout rooms,” she continued. “We even had a little afterparty of a few more breakout rooms since it was so fun!”

View the virtual event here.


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