Joe Pytka departed from his signature grunge look to deck himself out in a tux, his long blondish-gray flowing around his shoulders, to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hugos at Park West March 11.
Pytka, the Pittsburgh director who made good in Hollywood and the undisputed master of 30-second storytelling, has directed 5,000 commercials, many of them for long-time clients DDB and Leo Burnett, which were represented by top creatives Bob Scarpelli and Cheryl Berman, respectively.
After a dazzling, fast-cut montage of some of Pytka’s most memorable spots, Berman mentioned Pytka’s infamous ability “to make grown men bawl ? and that’s before the shoot.” She added that “under his crass exterior is an understanding humanity that makes his films so endearing and enduring, a master who knows how to connect.”
Broadcast and print journalist Carol Marin also received a lifetime achievement award coinciding with her 25th anniversary in television. Her producer, Don Moseley, introduced the media diva and recalled charming and memorable incidents during their 23-year association.
For the Chicago advertising audience, the festival broke with tradition and screened a special short reel of Chicago winners, dominated by DDB and Leo Burnett, each agency winning seven Hugos.
Best of fest commercials went to Burnett for a United Nations Ad Council’s AIDS Awareness efforts, narrated by Michael Douglas. Best television production was claimed by Kartemquin’s “The New Americans.”
DDB’s 10 statuettes bested Leo Burnett by one. Its Hugos were for Bud Light (five), Budweiser, JC Penney, Office Max, Meijer and Degree. Leo Burnett hit home with Morgan Stanley (two), Altoids (two), Special K Red Berries, Chef Boyardee, Ninento, Delta Airlines and the UN AIDS spot.
In other categories: Silver plaques to Ch. 32 for an educational TV show and to FCB special achievement in a music score.
The Hugos were held at Park West before an audience of around 200. The always amiable Bill Zwecker was MC.