Mark Androw frankly admits his loves his job as board chairman of the 255-member Assn. of Independent Commercial Producers.
The president/executive producer of The Story Companies was recently reelected to a second one-year term. “There’s an amazing group of producers on the board and it’s a it’s a privilege to serve with them,” he says.
Androw is the only Chicagoan on the board, and his multi-city company is one of only eight Chicago-based members of the predominantly New York and Los Angeles-based organization that ply their trade and talents within the $5 billion commercial industry.
Indeed, he has jetted to New York or L.A. for board meetings every other month for so long that United Airlines has given him premiere executive status.
Being chairman, he says, has given him a broader perspective of the commercial industry that he might not have had otherwise. “I see that big companies face the same problems with their businesses that I do as a smaller operator.”
Some of these problems have been self-evident for several years:
More directors competing for fewer commercials; sharper price competition; more production companies with large clusters of directors; a shift in the way agencies spend their commercial dollars and the media they buy, and finding tricks to bring higher values to smaller budget jobs.
As a lawyer licensed to practice in Illinois, Androw is ideally suited to negotiate contracts with IATSE unions, since “one of AICP’s main goals is to make U.S. commercial production as cost competitive as possible and keep the work in this country,” he says.
Negotiations are done on behalf of AICP members, “but members are not compelled to be signatories,” he says.
Last year, after many months of conciliation, the AICP forged “a very good IATSE multi-state agreement” that combined a variety of local agreements into one cohesive standard contract. AICP considered it a major achievement that the camera locals were included.
Coming up in 2005 are negotiations with the Directors Guild and the Teamsters, whose contracts expire this year.
The AICP’s newly formed Chicago chapter back in the early ?80s came knocking on Androw’s door when he was production manager of the thriving Freese & Friends studio on Wells St.
Androw claims he was never elected local chapter president. “I’m the Gerald Ford of the Dan Lundmark administration,” he quips. “I was made president when Dan went to New York.”
A few years later he was tapped as national treasurer, a post he held for eight years, and thereafter was elected to two terms as vice chairman. He’s been on the board for 11 years.
He considers being based in the big Chicago adcenter as an advantage his L.A. confreres might not have. Not a lot of L.A. agencies buy a lot of commercials, not in the quantity of New York and Chicago shops.
“The way I describe it is, Chicago is the showroom and L.A. is the factory,” he says. I can get in a cab and go talk to clients face-to-face.” –Ruth L Ratny
Executive producer Mark Androw left Freese & Friends in 1989 to open a spot house built around West Coast A-list director Mark Story and about the time owner Tom Freese was talking about closing the studio and moving to Florida.
Fast forward 16 years and many changes later: The Story Companies (without Story who retired) led by Androw has a roster of popular directors and offices in Chicago, New York and Santa Monica.
Androw is executive producer Chicago’s Laurie Rubin; L.A.’s Brian Johnson, David Orr and Toby Phillips; New York’s Jamie Most, and Toronto’s Christina Hodnet and David Popescu.
Last year the company produced 20 packages for major advertisers, including P&G Home Caf?, Always, Sylvania, Gateway computers, State Farm insurance and Fresh Step cat litter.
Representing the company throughout the U.S. are Doug Steiber, Chicago, Marianne McCarley of New York, Connie Mellors, L.A., Jim Miller in the Southeast and Fran Mantoya in Texas.
The Chicago Stories is located at 401 W. Ontario; phone, 312/642-3173.