No surprise here: Burnett top Hugo Awards TV winner

Leo Burnett’s Chris Rossiter presents Optimus’ award

Leo Burnett is usually always the biggest winner of double digit awards for TV commercial excellence in the international competitions it enters throughout the year and the 48th annual Hugo Awards for Television Excellence was no exception.

Out of 132 winners from throughout the world for spots and TV shows who took home Silver Hugos, Gold and Silver Plaques and Certificates of Merit, Leo Burnett needed a special cart to lug home its 19 prizes.

Always in search of new and trendy venues, the 2012 event was held Thursday at the swank, new Radisson Aqua Blu 86-story hotel on the lakefront, designed by Jeane Gang of Studio Gang Architects and it did not disappoint. 

At the ceremonies before an estimated crowd of 300, the local spotlight was on two special awards. Optimus was honored with the Commitment to Excellence Award “for years of steady creative service to the Chicago community and beyond,” said award presenter Chris Rossiter, Leo Burnett EVP/director of production and an old and close friend of Optimus president Tom Duff. 

“Optimus is a Chicago company and even out in L.A. they work in a Chicago way: that the work day ends when the work ends,” Rossiter said.

“When we received the letter saying that we were getting this award, it was one of those too good to be true moments.  We are truly humbled,” said Duff, who had forsaken his iconic red shirt in favor of more formal attire for the occasion: a crisp white shirt with an open collar and a trim dark jacket.

“This kind of award goes well beyond Optimus,” Duff said. “It cements a sense of belonging in the Chicago community.”

The second special award — the Career Achievement Award — was presented to TV, film and theatrical actor Kelsey Grammer, who is filming the second season of Starz’ acclaimed “Boss” series here.  John Mahoney was on hand to honor his former co-star on the long-running “Frazier” series.   

“I spent eleven years playing Kelsey’s father and he is the easiest person to work with that you can imagine,” said Mahoney, whose permanent residence is in Oak Park. 

“What you’re doing is all about love,” said Grammer of the film industry. “I’ve been fortunate to work in a field that I loved all my life.”

Local agency Hugo winners

Here are the local agencies that won Hugo awards:

Leo Burnett’s 19 prizes included six Gold and 12 Silver Plaques; second in the number of awards with six each were editorial companies Cutters (one Gold, three Silvers, two Certificates) and The Whitehouse and Cap Gun division (one Gold, four Silvers, one Certificate); mcgarrybowen did well with five (three Gold, one Silver, one Certificate); Burrell’s four included the top Audience Award, two Silvers, one Certificate); one award each for Cramer/Krasselt (Gold); DDB (Silver), Digital Kitchen (Silver), Foundation Content (Certificate of Merit).

WTTW won a Silver for programming.