(Ferg, my hero Joe and Gavin James)
I have been very fortunate to work with the best commercial directors in the world. Pytka. Horn. Kaye. Griner. Giraldi.
But there is one director who I never worked with. Joe Sedelmaier. And for over 10 years, his office was just down the street from where I was working, Leo Burnett. But because of some weird policy handed down by the head of production, Al Lira, creatives weren’t “allowed” to work with Joe. It seems Joe was a control freak that was known to be rude to the clients and especially the agency. We couldn’t have that now, could we?
So for ten years, I would see one of the greatest directors of my generation walking down the street, but we weren’t allowed to even bid him. Once Bob and I were walking down Michigan Avenue when we spotted Joe. I wanted to talk to him which is not unusual for me since I have been known to break the “don’t talk to strangers rule” on more than one occasion. Bob advised me against it. “What if he hits you?” asked Bob. I had seen him on 60 Minutes. He didn’t look like the hitting kind. But directors are weird birds, so we crossed the street and watched in awe as Joe Sedelmaier strolled down the Magic Mile.
Joe Sedelmaier is one of the major reasons I am in advertising. He made the “Fast Talker” for Federal Express. And he made “Where’s the Beef” a catch phrase for all ages. He made Clara Peller a star. He made commercials that made people actually laugh outloud. He made an impact on my life.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally met Joe Sedelmaier. It was at the screening of the documentary aptly titled, “Sedelmaier”, produced and written by my new BFF Marsie Wallach. Prior to the showing, I met Joe. We were introduced and chatted about mutual friends, the ad biz, etc. I was shocked when he asked me to sit with him. What an honor! I sat for the next hour or so, watching some of my all-time favorite commercials with the man who had directed them. My only regret was that I didn’t have a spot on his reel.
Following the show, Joe and I talked for a couple of hours at the Margarita Ranch. I love great stories and he told one great story after another. By midnight, it was time to head home. But before I left, I asked what would have happened if Bob and I had approached him on the street, he said, “I would have been flattered.”
Check out Joe’s new website! www.sedelmaier.com