Photography: Rob & Lindsay
Photography: Rob & Lindsay
Some of the industry’s top dogs came together under one roof in New York last week to honor the best in advertising—the campaigns we’ll never forget and the geniuses behind them—for the 69th annual American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony.
In total, eight longtime marketing executives and one corporation (Johnson & Johnson, which is only the ninth company in the AAF Hall of Fame history to receive the top honor) were inducted.
Here are all of the inductees and the insights and anecdotes they shared at the event:
Inductee Steve Hayden, retired vice chair and CCO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. He is most notably remembered for creating George Orwell’s 1984-inspired commercial for the launch of the Apple Macintosh computer in 1983 at Chiat/Day.
“I’ve heard several idiotic things in my career. The first was from an account guy at TracyLocke in Dallas who said ‘When it’s great, there’s no debate.’ So let me tell you about the first time the 1984 commercial was presented to Apple’s board of directors. Keep in mind, back in 1983, Apple was still very much a startup. So they had a startup board which means a group of very rich, very white, very conservative gentlemen the banks would trust. [When the commercial ends], the entire board has their heads in their hands or flat on the table. The chairman finally looks up and says ‘Can I get a motion to fire the agency?’ If it’s great, there’s no debate?!”
Inductee George Lois, creative director at Good Karma Creative. Lois is credited with helping several brands raise their profiles, including Tommy Hilfiger, VH1 and of course MTV with the “I Want My MTV” campaign.
“In this astounding new world, culture-busting technology has destroyed the attention spans [of] creatives, [as they] incessantly communicate with their fucking fingers, making their brains no longer fit for inventive thinking. In a flood of communication devices, all the tools in the world are meaningless without an essential idea. An artist, advertising person, a lawyer, an educator or president without an idea is unarmed … Being careful guarantees sameness and mediocrity. You can be cautious or you can be creative but there is no such thing as a cautious creative.”
Inductee Daisy Expósito-Ulla, chairman and CEO of d expósito & Partners. As an American refugee from Cuba and revolutionary adwoman during the Mad Men era, she paved the way for minorities in the industry and, in honor of her contributions, Expósito-Ulla is also the 2018 recipient of the David Bell Award for Industry Service.
“To be among tonight’s inductees feels like I’m a character in one of those simulations Elon Musk always seems to be talking about. It’s surreal to say the least. I don’t say this stuff about simulations purely as a gesture of humility. The fact that I ended up on this stage tonight is truly improbable. Growing up in Queens, the world outside my world seemed like a beautiful fishbowl in which other fish got to do the swimming. I was an immigrant, I was a minority and I was a woman of color. Propelled by my parents’ examples of tenacity I somehow made it into the ad agency world.”
Inductee Beth Comstock, former vice chair of GE.
“After a journey through media, I landed at GE and I found it an absolutely unexpected place to be challenged creatively. As fortune had it I joined a merry band of corporate bohemians from GE marketing and BBDO. The scientists created renewable energy, they detected cancer, they printed jet engines—pretty amazing things. But we did amazing things, too. We created Ellie the dancing elephant, trains that talked to trees, joke-telling donkeys.”
Johnson & Johnson’s Michael Sneed, worldwide vice president of corporate affairs and chief communication officer, speaking on behalf of the company being inducted:
“Johnson & Johnson is the largest, most broadly-based healthcare company and everyday we strive to use our reach for good. We accomplish this through breakthrough science which saves lives and shapes the health of future generations. We set higher standards to protect our climate and create healthier communities. And we believe in the power of diversity and inclusion to make this a more productive and peaceful world. We do all of this because we are united by one common purpose: to change the trajectory of health for humanity. Our advertising is a reflection of our commitment to this very purpose.”
Inductee Kenneth Chenault, former chairman and CEO of American Express Co.
“My first appreciation for the power of advertising came when I joined American Express 37 years ago and received my first formal lessons on brands and marketing. Over the course of my career I learned about the power of brands and the relevance of brands to consumers … For example I’ve learned a real brand represents a connection between a company, its products and its customers; that a brand is not a logo but a cluster of values.”
Inductee Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever.
“I doubt the industry has experienced such an enormous change than it is experiencing today. The opportunity to have two-way interesting conversations with consumers and individuals has never been greater. It makes it an undoubtedly, incredibly exciting time to be in advertising. This is not without risk and consequences as we have seen. The issues in the industry are multiple and complex and are coming at us at 100 mph. We share those concerns. It is vital that consumers have trust in our brands. Without it we don’t have a business.”
Inductee Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., chairman and former publisher of the New York Times.
“Our mission at the Times is to help people understand the world through independent, rigorous, deeply-reported journalism. It’s no secret the news business has undergone a major transformation. But even as our business model shifts, advertising remains crucial to our success.”
The late Lois Wyse (1926-2007) was the last inductee of the evening. The founder of Wyse Advertising, she crafted the notorious slogan for the J.M. Smucker Co.: “With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good.”