Happy Earth Day from Forest Park in St. Louis. Today the park is a jewel – Randy and I walked 8 miles of it Saturday – and it delighted in every way: flowers exploding, clear water flowing, not a single piece of litter in sight.
It’s hard to remember it wasn’t always that way.
When I was a young man of 25, the park was sadly neglected and terribly trashed. So much so, I wrote a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dripping in youthful dismay over its disarray. The letter was published on September 12, 1980, under the headline “Man’s Idiot Marks,” which was me quoting singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright. Here’s the letter.
I moved from St. Louis for a few years, and when I returned in the mid-80s, I learned that a nonprofit conservancy called Forest Park Forever had been formed to restore the park to its glory.
Looking back today at their incredible, transformative work, it’s safe to say they have. Much kudos to them now and, well… forever.
Walt Jaschek loved his very first Cosplay experience at St. Louis Wizard World 2019: as “Dr. Hank Pym,” of Marvel’s Ant-Man 1 and 2, he “re-united” with Ant-Man and the Wasp, and interacted with dozens of other heroes, friends and fans — many of whom recognized the character and asked for pics, to Walt’s relief. “I was afraid they’d just think I was an old guy in a lab coat.” Here are some pics of what Walt called “wacky comic-con fun.”
Dr. Hank Pym, founder of Pym Technologies and creator of the Ant-Man suit, will be attending the Wizard World Comic-Con in St. Louis, Mo, on April 6, 2016. Joining Dr. Pym will be the new Ant-Man, Scott Lang, in miniature form.
This famous physicist, known for his discovery of the Microverse and the Quantum Realm, could be of great service to the Avengers as they attempt to reverse the devastating effect Thanos had on…
Oh, heck, who are we kidding? This is Walt Jaschek, of course, attempting to pull of a Hank Pym look for his very first Cosplay experience! He’s leaving for the con any minute. Wish him well — and hope that his attempted goatee grows out, fast!
(And visit the parody site Walt created just for the occasion: PymTech.info.)
Walt Jaschek and wife Randy at the launch of the #STLMade Movement and the website TheSTL.com, at Venture Cafe in St. Louis, March 14, 2019.
I’m Walt Jaschek, and I’m #STLMade: born and raised in St. Louis. I’ve built a blessed life here, and have enjoyed a decades-long writing career here. I crafted work of which I’m proud, and which gained some attention from peers and associates; in 2018, I was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame. Needless to say, I dig this city like rock ‘n’ roll.
That’s why I was delighted to be invited to contribute articles to the new website TheSTL.com, part of the new #STLMade movement, which intends to “shine light on St. Louis thinkers, doers and makers.” A noble cause. I’m for it.
The site is now alive and my first article is published in it. Headlined Niche of Time, it spotlights a cool company in St. Charles, Masterclock, whose high-tech timepieces are sold globally. The firm is run by a dynamic CEO, John Clark, who is also, you will see, a one-man quote machine! Read the article.
Stay tuned for more articles as assignments arrive, and see what it means to be truly #STLMade. Like me. Meanwhile: Cheers!
Walt Jaschek served as editor-in-chief of The Current, the campus newspaper of the University of St. Louis, in 1974-1975. Staffer and Walt’s new pal Paul Fey was editor in 1975-1976. Years after graduation, the two went on to form Paul & Walt Worldwide, an ad agency specializing in funny radio commercials for national entertainment brands. For this body of creative work, among others, they were recently inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame. And to bring it back home, their former creative meeting ground, The Current, ran a pretty funny article about the whole thing. Read the piece by Kat Riddler here.
The circle of life. It’s a thing!
By Walt Jaschek
Part 1: A Surreal Night for an Addy Newcomer.
Heading to the 2019 St. Louis Addy Awards at Busch Stadium tonight, to cheer on the winners, be inspired by the work, and see old friends. It’s with no small bit of nostalgia that I realize I have been attending the St. Louis Addy Awards for exactly 30 years.
And though I’ve won my share of Addys over the years, none of the wins can compare to that first night, in 1989, when I won not one but two “Best of Show” Addys at the ceremonies at Powell Symphony Hall. It was a mind-boggling night my 33-year-old self was not prepared for. I was also not prepared for the article by Jerry Berger that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the next morning.
Here’s a clip of the piece, which everybody from my Mom to my dentist saw. (Back then, everybody read the paper.)
Headlined “Ad Writer Steals Show,” the article, accompanied by a mustache-laden head shot of my 33-year-old self, begins:
“Walter S. Jaschek, a free-lance advertising copywriter, stole the show the annual ADDY Award competition Thursday night at Powell Symphony Hall.
“Jaschek, who has an office on the South Side, won three gold and two Best of Show awards for advertising produced in St. Louis between Oct. 1, 1987, and Sept. 30, 1988.
“Jaschek submitted only three in the almost 900 entries received by the ADDY committee,
“‘I’m glad I made the right decision last April to free-lance,’ said Jaschek, a former member of the advertising management staff with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co.
“In the Best of Show category, Jaschek won in the radio and print categories. The radio winner was a 30-second commercial, ‘Laugh Catalog,’ for the Comedy Club, which Jaschek created by teaming up with former St. Louis Paul Fey; the print winner was themed, ‘Warm, Personal Letter,’ created to announce the opening of Jaschek Ink.” (The name of my business then.)
The article concluded:
“Hollywood entertainer John Byner served as master-of-ceremonies for the program, which marked the first held away from a hotel without a dinner.
“Of the more than 2,400 guests at Powell, 500 were advertising students from 24 colleges.”
Part 2: Looking Back at 1989 from 2019 (Video and Interview.)
A few months ago, the St. Louis Ad Club, to promote the 2019 St. Louis Addy Awards, asked members for “unusual Addy memories” they could capture on video and post on social media. I was only too happy to recall that first, very surreal win, and how it led to what became known as “The Red Underwear Story.
That’s a crisp and wacky 60 seconds, but the interview went longer. Here’s more of the Q & A.
Q: Let’s get warmed up….tell us a little about yourself. Name, title, where you work, a quick journey through your life in the ad business.
Walt: I’m Walt Jaschek, freelance copywriter and creative strategist, and because Jaschek is impossible to spell or pronounce, I DBA as Walt Now, as in, “What Now?” I have been so blissfully self-employed since 1988, and if you do the math, that means more than 30 years. So don’t do the math.
Q: What’s the difference between a copywriter and creative strategist?
Walt: Pants. Copywriters wear jeans. Creative strategists wear khakis. So today I come to you as a copywriter. But I have some khakis handy.
Q: What’s your perspective on the focus on winning awards in the advertising business?
Walt: Well, I think there are three reasons they are the big dang deal that they are. (1) We work mostly in anonymity – if you write an article or draw a New Yorker cover, you get a byline. They don’t put bylines on ads, though God knows I’ve tried. It’s a way of saying, “Look. I did this. Me. Do you like it?” (2.) Agencies know awards represent a creative culture, and culture attracts talent. And (3.) let’s cut to the chase: ego. Creatives are a roller –coaster of insecurity and egomania. I mean, would I carry this award around with me if I had more self-esteem?
Q: What about the Addys specifically? How does an awards show that is geared towards the local level different than national shows?
Walt: The appetizers are better. Here in St. Louis, you’re far more likely to see toasted ravioli. You’re not gonna get THAt a Cannes. No, seriously, I think it’s a matter of building community. Of representing. Saying, look at the work coming out of St. Louis. Take that… Austin. Or to keep it in the district: check it out… Des Moines.
Q. Do you remember your first Addy?
Walt: Sure. You always remember your first.
Q. Do you remember how many Addys you’ve attended?
Walt: No. I’d have to count the hang-overs.
Q. Is there a specific Addy story you’d like to share with us today?
Walt: I won my first “Best of Show” Addy in 1988 when I was 33 years old, my very first year of freelancing, for the ONE and ONLY THING I submitted that year: a one-page piece of a paper — a funny letter announcing my business launch. Unprepared, I had to go on stage at the Fox in front of a huge crowd to accept from comedian John Byner, and pictures of me from the podium have a shocked, deer-in-headlights quality. I improvised something about being glad I wore my “lucky red underwear.” That was too much information, now and then.
Q. But the red underwear thing became a running joke, right?
A. Right. That line became a running joke, and at another Addy ceremony years later, when I teamed up with Paul Fey and won a “Best of Show” for radio, we actually brought red underwear up to the podium and threw them into the audience. People were grabbing at them, like Fred Bird throwing t-shirts at Busch Stadium. For years after, people would say to me in public: “I still have your underwear!” Depending on who I might be with, that could be a little disconcerting.
Q: What lesson can we take away from your Addy story?
Walt: My quite serious take-away from that silly story is this: Enter SOMETHING. Even if it’s it’s only ONE thing. And even … if it’s the ONLY thing you got. ‘Cause, who knows? Weird stuff happens.
Q. What piece of advice would you give to anyone considering entering the Addys this year?
Walt: iBuprofen. Take it early And often. Also: have a speech prepared. Just in case. otherwise. You could end up like me. (Holds up Addy award with red underwear draped over it.)
Q. Thanks, Walt.
Walt: See you at the show!
Writer and Creative Strategist Walt Jaschek is a 2018 inductee into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame.
In 7th grade, I wrote a gushing fan letter to Stan Lee. The letter was subsequently published in its entirety in Captain America #107, November, 1968. A thrill. Here’s the cover, by Jack Kirby (another hero:)
But it got better. Stan deemed the letter worthy of a “No-Prize,” his inside-joke “award” for fans – an envelope with literally nothing inside. So when, a few weeks later, said envelope from Marvel arrived, my 12-year-old head hit the ceiling.
This is my way of saying… RIP Stan, entertainer extraordinaire, wizard of words and worlds, and an outsized influence on many, including me. I’m so happy you lived long enough to see your co-creations explode into every corner of pop culture. Thanks for the ride.
And thanks also for this little envelope: no prize I’ve gotten since surpasses.
“Congratulations,” it says. “This envelope contains a genuine Marvel Comics No-Prize which you have just won. Handle with Care.” I did, through the decades. That’s a pic I shot recently. The outer envelope (from 625 Madison Avenue, New York, 10022) has yellowed. The No-Prize itself… is mint.
Winner of “Best in Show” in the National Healthcare Advertising Awards, this rebranding campaign for Central Baptist Hospital system in Lexington, Kentucky, expressed the health care brand’s combination of high-tech… and “high-touch.”
The hospital wanted to advertise its new technological advances. Writer Walt Jaschek and client agency Maring Weissman wanted to ensure those advances were communicated via their very human benefit, the one every single patient wants most: getting back home, healthy.
Walt wrote the new tagline, “This is Care,” then used the “this is” phrase as the structural basis for a series of print ads, TV spots, banner ads and outdoor boards. Here are are few of the print ads in the campaign, a series of double-page newspaper spreads. Credits below.
Headlines: “This is the machine that healed Alan’s heart.” / “This is Alan’s heart.”
Headlines: “This is the CyberKnife™ that saved Donna’s life.” / “This is Donna’s life.”
“Steve’s Blood Flowing”
Headlines: “This is the stroke-preventing device that keeps Steve’s blood flowing.” / “This is Steve’s blood flowing.”
Headlines: “This is the monitor that keeps close tabs on Nathan.” / “This is Nathan.”
Here are two more of the mounted ads from Walt’s portfolio.
Left ad: Sensitive Mom. Headlines: “This is the highly sensitive digital mammogram that saved Mom.” “This is highly sensitive Mom.” Right ad: Ben’s Back. Headlines: “This is the procedure that fixed Ben’s back.” “This is Ben’s back.”
The integrated “This is Care” campaign was extended into all media, including radio and television. Here’s “Alan’s Heart,” as seen on TV.
Client: Central Baptist Hospital
Agency: Maring Weissman
Writer: Walt Jaschek
Designers: Paul Maring, Chuck Hart
Creative Director: Paul Maring
TV production: Arbor Group