Growing up Postaer was like growing up in an ad agency, says Steffan Postaer, chairman and chief creative officer of Euro RSCG in Chicago. His father, Larry Postaer, founded Rubin Postaer & Associates (now RPA), mother Christine Montet is an art buyer for Foote Cone & Belding Chicago, younger brother Jeremy is executive creative director and writer at JWT, and half-brother Daniel Postaer is a creative at the DMG agency in China.
"It was freaky, the amount of synergy that we had in our family," Steffan says.
Though dad is well-established in the pantheon of advertising greats for spots such as Honda's "Art Gallery" and "Eraser," the sons are doing very well on their own. Steffan's 1988 "Not your father's Oldsmobile" campaign with Leo Burnett in Chicago might be a clue as to how he approached his own career.
In the 1998 Magazine Publishers of America print contest, Jeremy and Steffan competed against their dad, with Steffan taking the top Kelly Award for his "Curiously Strong" work for Altoids. Jeremy, art director and copywriter at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, entered an ad for the Porsche Boxster, while Larry competed as RPA's creative director on a Honda ad.
"It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," Larry recalls. "Despite sibling rivalry, Jeremy cheered loudest when Steffan won."
While working at GSD&M in Austin, Texas, Jeremy came up with the "I am an American" Ad Council public service announcement that aired after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In 2004, father and son teamed up on a business deal, with Steffan's agency absorbing the staff and clients of RPA's Chicago shop. "The local press sort of made a joke about my dad giving me a present," Steffan says. "But it really felt like a gift. It's one of the things I'm proudest of."
Before joining Euro RSCG, Steffan, 43, developed memorable campaigns for Handspring, Jenn-Air and Maytag at LBWorks. His Altoids ads at LBWorks helped propel the niche brand into a popular mint. He won a Cannes Gold Lion for a 1987 Heinz Ketchup spot featuring actor Matt LeBlanc.
Out of the office, Steffan published the novel The Last Generation in 2003 that is being developed into a movie.
From the previous generation, he says he learned that "smart can be clever." For example, he says the work his father does for American Honda shows that "smart, powerful, consistent ideas—a series of solid base hits—can be more effective than a walk-off home run."