Living In Deeds, Not Years

In an age when people hop from shop to shop and 10 years is considered a lifetime, Alphonse Normandia is a bit of an anomaly.

Back in 1944, when Pearl Harbor was more than just a movie, Normandia joined BBDO New York as an assistant art director fresh out of New York’s High School of Music and Art. And he’s still there today—serving as vice president and director of animatic production.

“I just haven’t found anything I’d like to do better,” Normandia, 73, says with typical modesty.

Over the years, he has mentored scores of young creatives, including Ted Sann, now chief creative officer. To honor his 57 years of service, BBDO is giving back in the form of a Bob Walker-sculpted bust in the lobby of the creative department and the newly created Alphonse Normandia Scholarship in Art—an annual $25,000 gift given to a student at Cooper Union.

“It’s a fitting tribute to the complete and irrepressible artist and mentor Alphonse has always been,” says Sann.

“It was a total surprise,” Normandia says of the honors. “I’m still alive, that’s the hard part! There isn’t a picture of [BBDO’s founders] in the place, but there’s a bust of an old, broken-down art director!”

The place has changed in 57 years, he admits, but not at its core. “They were all sons of ministers,” he says of BBDO’s founders. “That’s changed, but the idea was always to hunt for the big thing. That’s never changed.”