This post transcribes an interview with me from Advertising Age in 1989, when my taste in funny advertising exceeded my taste in ski sweaters. That photo, oy! Did I not own a normal shirt?
Article transcribed from the version published in Advertising Age magazine, March 19, 1989.
BY JUDITH VANDEWATER
ST. LOUIS – Walter Jaschek assesses his sudden stardom with this rhyme:
“I don’t want to sound ungrateful I don’t want to sound like a jerk But instead of all the ad awards I’d like a little work.”
The work will likely come. Last month, Jaschek, 33, a little-known copywriter, surprised the local ad community by winning two of the four “Best of Show” awards at the Advertising Club of St. Louis’ Addy competition (AA, Feb. 27.)
He won in the radio category for English- and Spanish-language versions of “Laugh Catalog,” a 60-second commercial for King World’s syndicated TV show, “George Schlatter’s Comedy Club.”
In the print collateral category, Mr. Jaschek won for the funny “Warm, Personal Letter: – a form letter with blank spaces for the recipient’s name to be written in – used to promote his agency.
Mr. Jaschek, who runs his two-person shop, Jaschek Ink, out of an office in his basement, won five Addys for three last-minute entries.
His agency partner is his wife, Jackie, who handled the business side.
Might success spoil the shop?
“[Anheuser-Busch Chairman] August A. Busch III hasn’t called yet, but I wouldn’t want to take Budweiser away from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles,” Mr. Jaschek said.
Actually, he worked on the Bud account for DMB&B, helping develop a direct-mail piece now under A-B consideration, he said. He has also done projects for his former employer, Southwestern Bell Corp. Mr. Jaschek quit as an advertising manager there last year. “I just woke up one day and I said, ‘People should not do what they are good at; people should do what they are great at.”
Mr. Jaschek has collaborated with Paul Fey, and independent producer in Los Angeles, on several radio commercials, including the “Comedy Club” radio spot, a catalog of distinctly funny laughs.
Messrs. Jaschek and Fey waltzed away with their first “Best of Show” Addy radio spot 2 years ago. The spot, “Subliminal Seduction,” was created for a Denver restaurant, but it also been sold to Menage, a local dance club.
Amateur “action-thriller” film made by Walt Jaschek and friends as sophomores at Jennings High School introduces Walt’s long-time detective character, played by him. Jennings, Missouri. 1971. A quartet of juvenile delinquents make a daring escape from a detention center and head for a hide-out of gambling and drugs. When Christopher McKarton, teen detective, learns of … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Teen Detective (1971)
St. Louis media history rediscovered! Here are KMOX-TV Channel 4’s “Big Mistake” commercials from 1985, alerting viewers to an error in TV Guide magazine. Writer/director: Paul Fey. Guy on camera: me! Yes, that’s me, Walt Jaschek, at a studio in KMOX-TV (St. Louis,) performing on-camera in 1985. I recently found these spots on 3/4″ tape, … Continue reading “Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)
We needed a funny product for a funny comic we’re creating. The thought of emulating a certain sweet treat often featured in the comics of our youth? Delicious. Boastess® Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Concept: Walt JaschekPackage design and copy: Don SecreaseStay tuned to see what we do with these! The … Continue reading Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™
“Positioning + creativity + guts = effect.” That was my formula for successful advertising, as quoted in this 1984 article from the Colorado Springs Business Journal by Ron Wallace. I was 29 years old.
The Ad Vantage: On Words And Up Words “Positioning + creativity + guts = effect” By Ron Wallace Colorado Springs Business Journal, January, 1984
Almost every hour of the day we are a candidate for hearing a message from a total stranger. When we wake to the radio alarm, drive in the car, read the paper, or watch television, we are constantly bombarded by message from anonymous copywriters who urge us, one way or another, to buy someone’s product or service.
I recently met with three of the best local copywriters, Steve Haggart and Tom Bulloch of Bulloch & Haggart Advertising, and Walt Jaschek, creative director of The Flynn Group, to discuss the role of copywriting in the marketing process.
What is copywriting? According to Walt Jaschek, writer of the commercial that won best-of-show at the Pikes Peak Advertising Federation awards presentation, “Copywriting is the science and art of transforming concepts into words and pictures. It is the process of communicating information, of taking a specific message and telling it to a recipient in an attempt to get the individual to act upon the message. Copywriting is not just words. It is creating the concept that will trigger an emotional or intellectual response in a particular audience, and it is the writing of the words themselves.”
A similar definition was given by Steve Haggart. “On a basic level, copywriting is writing the words that appear. It begins with a selling concept, a basic decision about how the product is going to be shown. The creative concept is very much intertwined with the writing of the words.”
Like A Lawyer Presenting A Case
Tom Bulloch adds, “Copywriting is like a lawyer presenting a case. There is a statement of the problem and a solution provided.” So, in short, copywriting is the hand of the marketing process that makes the message real and get it down on paper to be produced so that we can read it, hear it, and see it.
For Walt Jaschek, copywriting propels the abstract into the tangible. First, says Jaschek, comes the research, then the marketing positioning and finally writing the ad. That’s the key that turns the system. Both Haggart and Jaschek feel that marketing strength and creativity are not mutually exclusive.
“In copywriting, there is a symbiosis of marketing information and an expression of relevant information the audience needs to know,” says Bulloch. “It’s really hard to see where art stops and the copy begins. Sometimes we couldn’t tell you who came with layout or copy headline, and those have been our best ads.”
Just as marketing research and positioning have to work with copywriting to achieve the communication goal, art and words also have to work together in a good ad. “In the best advertising, you can’t really separate the warmth from the selling message,” says Haggart. “How can you separate the marketing concept, the idea you’re trying to get across, from the execution? They’re too closely related.”
Create A Shared Space With The Audience
Copywriting is an important profession, because it so directly works to stimulate the economy. So what type of people become copywriters? “Anyone who has an acumen for translating concepts into language in a compelling ways,” is Jaschek’s answer. He also says that honesty is of utmost importance in the advertising process.
“What I like to do is create a temporary space, share with an individual member of the audience, and use their intelligence as a tool to understanding the message even more. For example, in the Baron’s Saloon “Subliminal Seduction” radio commercial, we were simply saying that, whatever technique we use to get your attention, the core message is, we’d like you try Baron’s.
“The best copywriters know a lot about life,” says Bulloch. “They know what language people use. They know a little bit about a lot of things.”
Haggart says, “Curiosity and a willingness to ask questions marks the type of person that becomes a copywriter, along with the sheer ability and enjoyment of putting ideas into words.”
What happens if a client doesn’t like the advertisement but the copywriter thinks it will sell? Both agencies take a strong stand for their ideas. They present the campaigns to their clients after much thought, and say, this is why we think it will work for you.
“A doctor can argue with you that you need your appendix taken out,” says Bulloch. “You may not want that but that doesn’t change the fact that you went to him for his opinion, you think he’s good, and you need it taken out.”
There are many rules to follow in advertising. An Ogilvy disciple is respected by all. “The main rule,” says Haggart, “is to take an offer and make it as attractive as possible by pointing out how well it solves the problem – dramatize it.”
The Jaschek Equation
Jaschek’s rule for successful advertising is, “positioning plus creativity plus guts equals effect.” In order word, he says: understand your product’s unique selling position. Communicate that with creativity. And take some chances.
“A lot of people believe the standard for good marketing is to do what everybody else is doing; that’s safe. It’s like the saying, ‘nobody gets fired for hiring IBM.’ But nobody gets remembered for doing that, either.”
What is the rule of typography in copywriting? Jaschek says it is tremendously important. The typeface, the amount of white space one uses, is crucial how the words are read. The type should complement the method and Haggart points out that the size of ad and what one has to work with often designates the typography.
When asked, at what level of sophistication is Colorado Springs’ advertising, compared to towns of its size, all felt there was a great deal of good work coming out of this market. “For towns of its size, Colorado Springs is way ahead,” says Jaschek.
“Good advertising and good agencies depend of good clients,” says Haggart. “If, like Topeka, Kansas, Colorado Springs was the capital of the state, then there would be larger companies based here and even stronger advertising.”
What’s the worst thing one can do in advertising? “Insult the readers’ intelligence,” says Jaschek. “It’s a mistake to assume that the audience won’t understand. Use the audience’s intelligence, imagination, perception and awareness for you.”
Get the Address Right
A different but equally sound answer was given by Steve Haggart. “Leaving the client’s name or address off is the worse thing you can do, or otherwise make it impossible for the prospect to buy your product.”
And finally, what advice do these copywriters have for the small businessman or woman who can’t really afford a large agency? All agreed that they should get some sort of professional consultation from a freelance copywriter, a media representative, or an ad agency. Contacting a good agency for just two hours of their time might provide a solid marketing understanding of the business and a direction to pursue.
“Ask other businessmen for their advice,” says Tom Bulloch, “and above all, when a plan is made, stick to it.”
So, as you hear advertisement copy throughout the day, know that copywriters work to use their marketing expertise and creative imagination to not just sell you product, but to talk to you like your best friend.
Are they heroes? Are they super? NOT. The new, reluctant team from writer Walt Jaschek and Walt Now Films now has its own site. Hi. Walt here. This is an excerpt from The Hero Nots screenplay I’m writing this Fall. Hope to wrap up the script in 2021, cast and shoot in 2022, post and … Continue reading Hero Nots™
Walt serializes his new comic book script on the new Kindle Vella platform. It’s the pilot episode for action hero Satin Brass™, Overdue Accounts Collector. You can read the first three chapters for free on Kindle Vella. Then purchase tokens from Vella to unlock more chapters! Satin Brass is a high-tech bounty hunter in a … Continue reading Satin Brass™ Now on Kindle Vella
The St. Louis Media History Foundation asked Walt to add some comedy to its 2021 Hall of Fame video. This “Zoom call” is the result. Congratulations to the new honorees in the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame, which due to The Current Situation is a video celebration only, archived on YouTube.Ken Ohlemeyer Jr., producer … Continue reading Walt “calls in” to St. Louis Media Hall of Fame Ceremony
Copywriter Walt Jaschek remembers St. Louis Post-Dispatch ad columnist Jerry Berger, and being lifted from obscurity by the reporter’s generous coverage.
Certain graces boost us in our careers, inadvertently or otherwise.
In my career, one of those graces was named Jerry.
Newspaper writer Jerry Berger (1933-2021) was on the advertising and marketing beat for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the 1980s and 1990s. He wrote a hefty weekly column on the St. Louis ad biz, and probably hundreds of stand-alone articles on the region’s agencies, clients, campaigns, hires, wins and losses. This is also the era when I, in my early 30s, left corporate life and opened my own freelance ad agency, soon teaming with college buddy and producer Paul Fey as Paul & Walt Worldwide.
In those days, I came to talk to Jerry Berger frequently. That’s because he called me frequently.
It all started when I had an extraordinary bit of luck my first year in business, unexpectedly winning big at the 1989 St. Louis Addy Awards, the ad biz competition. I didn’t know Jerry then – we hadn’t yet met – but morning after the Feb. 16 gala, I woke up to this article on the Post’s business page, and a lot of phone calls because of it.
A few days later, much of the same info was included in Jerry’s regular Monday “Advertising/Marketing” column, including a pic of me with some Ad Club executives Roy Saunders, Glennon Jamboretz and Bill Metzer.
Here’s a closer look of that photo: it includes 33-year-old me with a deer-in-the-headlights expression, trying to keep it cool among industry luminaries. I didn’t know what was about to hit me. (Genuinely didn’t know: the club hinted that I needed to be at the event, but didn’t tell me I would have to improvise thank-you remarks before that crowd of 1400.) (But I did.)
Shortly after this blitz of publicity about my bizarre Addy luck, including articles in Adweek, The St. Louis Business Journal and elsewhere, Jerry seemed to designate me continually newsworthy. In March, 1989, he phoned me from the Post-Dispatch newsroom and asked me to come down so we could meet face-to-face. Though on a deadline, I knew I couldn’t resist making that connection. I zipped from my “South Side shop” (a basement in a house in the city’s Clifton Heights neighborhood) to the PD. He greeted me at his office, sizing me up. “You’re just a pup!,” he said. He had about 20 years on me, I guess.
But we hit it off, and soon, I was in his rolodex as a source. A few weeks later, as one of my comic book stories was being published in a Marvel Comics humor book, I woke up to this lede on his Saturday “gossip” column – which appeared in addition to all his other columns. Prolific, thy name was Jerry.
I think now of Steve Martin in The Jerk when the new phone book arrives. Flipping through the pages, Steve’s character assures himself, “This is the kind of publicity that can make or break a person.” That morning, truth to tell, I was a little embarrassed. My feature in What Th–? wasn’t breaking news. But I soon relaxed into the flow of being a source and tried to stay cool when Jerry would call out of the blue looking for something worthy of a few column inches. I attempted to be immediately interesting, not always easy. (“What AM I working on?,” I would think.) I could hear Jerry typing as I talked. That’s how it was done; it’s how he generated so much content. In April, 1989, I was (evidently) working on spots for “Wheel of Fortune.”
Jerry also had a “Radio Talk” column for the Post-Dispatch, focusing on just that medium. (The fact that radio was a big enough deal to get its own coverage is very impressive, in retrospect.) In March, 1990, there was a big story for St. Louis radio: storied KMOX leader Robert Hyland was being honored as media person of the year by the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis. About Hyland, Jerry cheekily wrote:
How about an award, too, as self-marketer of the century? Let’s face it – ask 10 people on the streets of Manhattan to identify Laurence Tisch and maybe one will connect him with CBS. … Ask 10 people on the streets of St. Louis to identify Hyland, and at least nine will associate him in some way or another with KMOX radio…”
But who did Jerry call to fill out the column on this radio industry legend? The “pup” in his “South Side shop!”
What a lucky dog I was. I knew it then, I know it now. Small businesses and start-ups hunger for publicity; now they flood social, but before the internet, they sent out voluminous press releases, hoping to snag an editor’s eye for an iota of coverage. Me? I just had to sit near the phone.
By 1991, thanks to Paul’s great relationship with the CBS television network and his ongoing, successful work for them, we together were producing national radio campaigns for its prime-time line-up. Paul was in Hollywood, working closely with the network’s promo department, but I was still in my basement on the “South Side” on St. Louis, faxing in scripts daily. Every once in a while we would head off together, as in June of that year, when we were in person at the CBS affiliate meeting. Just before I left for Lambert, Jerry Berger called. And the next morning, this led the column.
This miracle of many mentions continued until Jerry retired later in the 90s, and his advertising and marketing column was handed off to writer Oscar Waters, who was also generous in his coverage of our creative journey. Here’s an example of his coverage of our radio campaign for The Simpsons.
But it is Jerry I credit, with immense appreciation, for noticing our work, caring about it, and presenting it often to his readers as worthy of newsprint.
Jerry left us in January of this year after a long illness. I hope he is at peace. I thanked him frequently back then, and this is me publicly thanking him now, as he no doubt works a roledex in heaven, typing, typing, typing as angels dictate the day’s celestial scoops.
Many graces lift our careers, planned and unplanned, over the years.
One of my graces really knew how to work the phone.
“How to Kill a Pitch” is a short ad biz satire written by Walt, directed by Angie Lawling, shot by Chris Lawling, produced by Mercury Films. Oh, creatives! Don’t fall on that sword over your favorite idea. Client not loving your latest idea? There’s another one, you know. Come up with it and live, damn it! … Continue reading How to Kill a Pitch: Comedy Short, Script by Walt
Overcome procrastination and writers’ block! In a new “timed writing” video, writer Walt Jaschek prompts you to join him as he writes uninterrupted for 22 minutes. (It works!) Is there something you need to write? Are you in avoidance mode? Would a timed, 22-minute deep dive move something along? And would watching Walt write at … Continue reading 22-Minute Writing Sprint
St. Louis copywriter remembers his good luck at the St. Louis Addy Awards over the years, and how the Ad Club’s recognition helped move him from obscurity to career success.
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.
Headlined “Ad Writer Steals Show,” the article, accompanied by a mustache-laden headshot 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.
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.
[For more media reaction, see part 3, below.]
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.)
This article first appeared in Call Letters, the member newsletter of the Southern California Broadcaster Association, in Fall, 1995. Paul & Walt Worldwide had just completed a national, Fall Sweeps radio campaign promoting CBS-TV, including hit show “Murphy Brown.” Candice Bergen and cast, above.
Paul & Walt Worldwide Converting Ears to Eyes
A Southern California ad agency with the unlikely name of Paul & Walt Worldwide created a “huge radio extravaganza” recently, included appearances by the Temptations, Candice Bergen, Connie Chung and the stars of Designing Women to help client CBS-TV score a major upset, winning its first Fall Sweeps ratings victory in Southern California in six years.
The radio “theatre of the mind” – which recently won a SUNNY for best television promotion – featured a cast of thousands and two CBS-TV sportscasters describing the action with Connie Chung playing the saxophone and the Temptations executing simultaneous backflips. The spots also featured the stars of Designing Women in a dazzling exhibition of synchronized swimming.
“This was a perfect opportunity,” says partner Paul Fey, “to make a major effort on radio and use the medium for what it does so well: utilize the listeners’ imaginations.
CBS-TV made a major commitment to win the Fall premiere week and sweeps battle with new programming and promotion after finishing poorly for several years. The company made the biggest radio campaign in history as part of the massive, multi-media drive.
To tie in with the television campaign, CBS-TV saturated Southern California radio over Labor Day weekend. Paul & Walt produced eight related radio spots built around a fictional event: the “CBS Get Ready Weekend.”
The agency’s two principals, Paul Fey and Walt Jaschek, had separate, successful ad careers prior to joining forces as Paul & Walt Worldwide. Fey began his career at CBS-owned KMOX-TV, St, Louis, creating radio for the station’s audience promotion efforts. Jaschek was simultaneously working as Creative Director for a Colorado ad agency. By 1982 they were each winning national awards. Since then, they’ve won more than 300.
“Walt and I met in 1974 in college when we were both journalism majors and worked on the college newspaper together,: says Walt Jaschek. “Paul used to collect Dick Orkin and Alan Barzman radio spots, and I would ask him, ‘When are we going to great stuff like that?’”
When Paul Fey was writing and producing alone, he was getting job offers from CBS stations who were aware of his work for KMOX. “I didn’t really want to do the same thing in L.A. or New York,” he says. “I really wanted to hold out just enough, to go into business for myself and work for all them. I did that in 1985, and within a few months I was a one-man shop, writing and producing and doing most of my work in Los Angeles. The business was growing fast and needed some help.”
Fey’s school chum Walt, having moved back to St. Louis to become an advertising manager for Southwestern Bell, eventually realized his goal of free-lancing.
The two joined forces fives years ago when Paul got a huge assignment. Since that time Walt has become the full-time writer and Paul participates in concept work and takes care of the business and production end.
In addition to CBS-TV, the agency does creative work for King Word (distributors of “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy”,) Warner Bros. and Anheuser-Busch.
“We love working in radio,” says partner Jaschek. “It lets us supply endless visuals and the listener completes the pictures we create.”
“The only downside to doing radio,” adds Fey, “is that you can’t convince the client that the radio spot has to be done on location in Hawaii like you can with a TV spot.”
It has been said that a radio station is only as good as its commercials. That axiom has served Paul Fey and Walt Jaschek well.
Widely acclaimed for their sharp sense of humor, the team is nationally recognized as the creative genius behind a number of radio spots promoting the seasonal lineup of shows for TV networks.
Their client list includes King World, Warner Brothers Television, 20th Century Television and CBS Television Network.
“If a commercial is boring and doesn’t hold their attention, we can’t blame them if they reach up and hit the button on the car radio,” said Paul Fey, founding partner of Paul & Walt Worldwide. “We want to stop them in their tracks.”
Fey and Jaschek have been on the laugh track since high school, winning some 400 awards for excellence in commercial production, including three Clios and two regional Emmys. The team walked award with the five Ollies in one evening, setting a record for the most awards won by one company in the Hollywood Radio & Television Society’s annual presentation.
One Ollie was presented for a Paul & Walt commercial, “Auditions,” in which Patrick Stewart is among the voices trying out for the part of Jean Luc Picard in “Star Trek.”
Of all the awards (which stream in at a rate of 50 a year), Fey is most partial to the team’s first Clio. Fey aspired to win a Clio since his high school years, and recalls vividly the magic feeling of creating the spot.
It was a radio ad featuring a “catalog” of types of laughter. “The whole spot was kind of invented on Walt’s front porch. It just sort of came out… It wrote itself,” he said.
What keeps this team on the leading edge? “We never want to get satisfied with doing the same thing,” Fey said, pointing out that too many comedy teams rely on formulaic humor.
“Once upon a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, funny dialogue radio spots were what broke through the clutter. Now, I feel that funny dialogue spots are becoming the clutter, because there is so much of it out there,” Fey said.
Radio in particular lends itself to production-oriented spots, where a hybrid of audio effects, humor and dialogue work together. “It’s much easier to do a gigantic-scale production on radio because a lot of it is letting people’s minds fill it in,” he said.
A recent Paul & Walt commercial for a cellular telephone carrier, for example, camped up the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around” with a polka beat accompanied by amusing dialogue, delivered in a deadpan voice:
“I get around, so I signed up for voice mail. I used to leery about sending voice mail. I wasn’t sure if I was putting enough stamps on it.”
As the music cut in and out abruptly, the deadpan voice again speaks up:
“Voice mail is easy. Think of it as rolling up a yellow sticky-note, jamming it into your cellular phone, and having it pop out somewhere else.”
Life begins for a Paul & Walt spot with an idea, either dreamed up by Fey, the production genius of the team, or Jaschek, the primary writer. Fey works from the Paul & Walt Worldwide office in Los Angeles, while Jaschek works from his office in St. Louis, the city where they both grew up.
They communicate through faxes and computer modems to tighten ideas, copy and production of radio ads.
The spot takes life in the imagination long before it is committed to tape. “It’s no exaggeration for me to say that I know exactly what a spot sounds like before it’s recorded,” Fey said. “The key is trying to put on tape what’s in my head.”
Paul & Walt fleshes out the characters, relying on a pool of creative talent from an audio studio in the same building as its Los Angeles office.
“People get accustomed to thinking of radio in a certain way,” said Fey, who claims the company owes its success to breaking those conventions. The plan for the future is to continue carving out new niches in radio commercials.
Paul & Walt Worldwide is now working on a project that Fey hopes will set a new milestone in how people perceive radio. He was mum about who the client is and the product, saying only that he is not bound to the conventions of 30 or 60 seconds for the spots.
“We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do with radio,” he said.
If you watch CBS or Fox during prime-time or NBC late night, chances are good that you’ve laughed at Walt Jaschek – or at least his work.
The advertising agency of Paul & Walt Worldwide specializes in tickling the funny bones of radio television audiences. The St. Louis-half of the duo –– lives and works in a three-story brick house in quiet Clifton Heights. His partner, Paul Fey, works out of a high-rise on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Jaschek, a former advertising executive at Southwestern Bell Telephone, writes commercials for some of the top brands in the country, including Cadillac and Anheuser-Busch Cos. But possibly his most recognized effects are his television promotions. He’s done work for NBC, specifically spots for Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, but for the past three years, the firm’s biggest clients has been CBS. Earlier this year, Fox Broadcasting signed Jaschek to create a national radio campaign for “The Simpsons.”
Jaschek and Fey, who met in their undergraduate days at UMSL, teamed up in 1991. The partnership has won the critical acclaim of most the advertising and entertainment industries. Last year, the team won five Ollie awards at the Hollywood Radio and Television Society’s 33rd Annual International Broadcasting Awards. They’ve also scored two Clio awards, three Addys and a dozen International Broadcasting awards, among others.
“It’s fun to be part of the national entertainment scene,” says Jaschek.
It’s also fun to work at home, autonomously. That leaves this father of two free to squire his son, Adam, to swimming lessons during the summer. Adam Jaschek also helps Dad review new series and is also the first line critic on shows and certain promotional spots. When the sitcoms “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Family Matters” debuted, Adam saw the pilots before any of his classmates did. The network frequently sends by overnight express videos of new series for Jaschek to examine. Not only do his spots garner a show attention during a season, the commercials can affect its initial acceptance.
When first setting up shop in his basement, he went door to door telling his neighbors he’d be working from home. One resident responded with relief. “Oh good,” the man said. “I thought you were on a really long vacation.”
Jaschek confesses he had “no formal training” in TV promotion. Once he stumbled on the specialty, courtesy opportunities brought in by partner Fey, he simply realized “how fun it was and how many of my skills, some useless until that point, came into play.” Writing humorous promos “just evolved,” he says.
Writing a campaign can up to a week, but sometimes he has just 24-hours to come up with 60 seconds of knee-slapping wit. That’s when the glamour of working at home wanes. In the early days of Paul & Walt Worldwide, he recalls, “I worked morning, noon, night and weekends… I was totally consumed.”
These days, having settled into somewhat of a routine, he doesn’t start writing until 2 p.m. “In the morning, I’m watching pilots, taking notes, getting Adam to swimming lessons, brainstorming with partner Paul, letting the dog out…” But after 2 p.m., he gets cranking.
Just a year ago, Jaschek wrote 100 percent of the material his produces – approximately 500 commercials a year. Now he shares the work with another writer in the five-person Sunset Boulevard offices headed by Paul Fey.
Once he’s written the scripts, he sends them to L.A. via modem. “Paul prints them out and presents them to CBS,” he says.
Fey then produces the approved scripts, supervising the casting, directing and editing, in state-of-the-art recording studios in the L.A. office of Paul & Walt Worldwide. Once the approved spots are completed, the network ships them out to radio networks and stations nationally.
“CBS thinks it’s funny that I live in St. Louis,” Jaschek says. A few years ago, I would have had to live in L.A. to do what I do. But today, for all the difference it makes, “I could be in the office down the hall, across town or St. Louis.”
With Los Angeles two hours behind St. Louis time, Jaschek’s hours are also longer. “I feel like a really, really remote suburb of L.A.”
Relocating is not in the cards, he insists. “I love St. Louis. My extended family is here, and it’s a pleasant places, lush, green – and not crowded.”
Working from home is an “accountability thing,” he says. “People take responsibility for their own works, ideas and lives” when the clock that’s running is their own.
Jaschek has just completed a screenplay, is working on a comic book, and is a guest lecturer at Webster University. In short: “I’m having a blast,” he says.
Walt Jaschek’s first published comic strip: Christopher McKarton, dramatic thriller, serialized weekly in The UMSL Current, Fall, 1974. Script and pencils: Walt. Inks and letters: Gary Hoffman. It was a dramatic debut for Christopher McKarton, my rookie homicide investigator called to an ominous and familiar location. Here are the first four panels as they appeared … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: 1974 comic strip debut
The short answer: not as far as we know or can legally prove. In fact, bless that Paul Blart. Somebody had to be “the” Mall Cop in pop culture. He won. But here’s a longer Q&A with Walt Jaschek about that, originally published in 2009, when the movie was coming out but more than a decade … Continue reading Is Paul Blart: Mall Cop Based on Mel Cool: Map Cop?
Here’s a preview image and description of BAD ASH™, Overdue Accounts Collector, the new comic book action hero created by Walt Jaschek, and coming soon from Walt Now Studios. This rare, original concept art of Bad Ash by Walt Jaschek is for sale. Bad Ash is a high-tech bounty hunter in a glistening city of … Continue reading Bad Ash™: Coming Soon from Walt Now Studios
In this article by Patricia Miller reprinted from The St. Louis Business Journal, Jan. 28. 1991, Walt Jaschek reveals the source of his “basement humor:” his below-ground home office.
Walt Jaschek and his basement humor
by Patricia Miller
What strikes Walt Jaschek as funny in his southside basement often ends up on national radio.
Jaschek, 35, writer radio advertising, including national radio campaigns promoting CBS Television Network and Warner Brothers programs. His firm, Walt Now, is based in the basement of his home on Columbia Avenue.
“I figure that if it makes me laugh here in the basement, it probably works,” Jaschek said.
No only does it work, but it has also earned the St. Louis native local, regional and national attention and an number of Clio and Addy advertising awards, which line the steps of the walls leading to his basement.
“We create mind movies,” Jaschek said. “With radio, the audience is already there — you just supply the visuals.”
Larry and LaVerne, the couple addicted to the Jeopardy game show, are Jaschek’s creation. Jaschek developed the characters as pat of a story lien to promote the CBS game show for radio. (A third character, “Trebecka,” is in the making, Jaschek hinted.)
In another radio spot for the game show, Jaschek describes how “darn hard” it is to win at Jeopardy.
“I mean these categories! ‘Civil War Snack Foods!’ Famous Gynecologists! Medieval Flossing Techniques!’…”
Jaschek’s link to “Hollywood” is his college buddy, Paul Fey, a St. Louis native who at one time worked for KMOX-TV and is a producer in Los Angeles. They have collaborated on advertising projects since Jaschek “took the plunge off the 38th floor” of Southwestern Bell Corp. (where he was advertising manager) into freelancing in 1988.
The two University of Missouri-St. Luis grads are formalizing their informal business relationship this month under the name of Paul & Walt Worldwide, according to Jaschek, who said they work well together since they share “an inclination toward audio humor.”
“We brainstorm together,” Fey said. “But the way it has evolved, Walt does the lion’s share of the writing and while his is writing I’m producing the last spot he wrote.”
The two partners have completed hundreds or radio spots over the past two years, by way of phone, fax and modem, according to Fey. He declined to disclose the their revenues, but said a typical CBS Network radio spots runs about $9000 to $10,000 from concept to completion.
In some of those spots, Jaschek wrote scripts for the TV actors to promote their own programs, which has inspired him to do do bigger projects.
“Since I’ve done a one-minute script for the Golden Girls, I believe I can multiply that by 22 minutes,” he said. “I’d like to transition from promoting the project to doing own product, namely a TV sitcom.”
Jaschek’s resumes includes public service announcements for the American Optometric Association and the city of St. Lous Operation Brightside, as well as comic strips for Marvel Comics and his own original comic strip, Dang Gnats!™
His resume also includes a theme song for the state of Missouri which he developed for Kenrick Advertising. Jaschek set the song to a country and western theme calling on tourists to “relax and refresh” in Missouri enabling him to let loose the frustrated country western songwriter in himself, he said.
The theme song and other single market humor are often much more difficult than writing national humor, according to Jaschek, who counts as his early models Monty Python, the early Second City / Saturday Night Live crew, Warner Brothers cartoons and the early Mad magazine.
“It’s a challenge to write something that is funny in Seattle, Miami, New York and Los Angeles, but single market humor is harder — you really have to know the market.
Jaschek descends into his office at about 8:30 every morning Monday through Friday. Mornings are typically spent on logistics, and always include at least one phone call to Fey in Los Angeles.
The answering machine is turned on in the afternoon during which time Jaschek “hibernates” while he goes on an “intense writing blitz to meet the daily 5 p.m. script deadlines. He then picks the pace back up again from 9 p.m. to midnight, working on the next day’s assignment or other freelance.
— End Story, January 28, 1991
Walt Jaschek wishes social media had been around when he was interesting
This story by Maureen O’Donnell appeared in the March 6, 1989, edition of Adweek magazine.
A Big Hand for the Little Agency: Two Fledgling Shops Take St. Louis Addys by Storm
By Maureen O’Donnell
ST. LOUIS – The staffers at two small, young agencies had trouble applauding at the St. Louis Addys. It wasn’t for lack of enthusiasm. Their hands were so full of awards, they couldn’t clap.
“We kept passing them down the row and juggling them,” recalls Pamela Barnes, office manager at the Puckett Group. “It was hard to applaud after a while.”
The Puckett Group and another little known St. Louis agency, Jaschek Ink, stole the show here last month. Jaschek won three gold and two Best of Show Awards after submitting only three entries. The Puckett Group nabbed nine gold awards, more than St. Louis’ two oldest, largest agencies combined: D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles and Gardner. Puckett Group also won a Best of Show.
Walt Jaschek’s head is still spinning from the recognition. His freelance copywriting agency, with a staff of one – the boss – won’t even celebrate its first birthday until next month.
“I wish I could be hip and blase about it,” said Jaschek, 33, “but I must admit I called my Mom at the crack of dawn and said, “Mom! Guess what!”
Jaschek won Best of Show in radio for a 60-second spot boosting the TV show George Schlatter’s Comedy Club, featuring the sounds of different types of laughs, from the “East Coast Schmooze” to the “Glasnost Giggle.”
Jaschek’s Best of Show print collateral ad, announcing his agency’s opening, was a spoof of a warm, personal note. It was a form letter.
Before opening his company last April, Jaschek was a creative director at the Flynn Group in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “It was a small, hot shop, and that was fun,” Jaschek says. He went on to work in advertising management at Southwestern Bell in St. Louis, handling copywriting and collateral materials such as brochures.
Southwestern Bell is among his freelance clients todays, as are Eveready Battery Co., Anheuser Busch, Monsanto, CBS and NBC.
“Radio is my obession, and radio is what I do best,” Jaschek said. “It engages your intelligence.” His influences include the Monty Python comedy troupe, Bob and Ray, and Stan Freberg.
Opening his own show was an easy decision, Jaschek said. “I woke up one morning, said, ‘I’m 33 years old.’ I believe people should do not what they’re good at, but what they’re great at,” it he said.
“So, [he begins singing in a Sinatra-esque purr] it’s the free-lance life for me.”
This post reprints a 1983 article by Debbie Warhola of the Colorado Springs Sun about radio commercials, including an interview with young creative director Walt Jaschek.
Radio’s Word Magic
Putting together those essential, captivating commercials is ultimately “a roll of the dice”
By Debbie Warhola Colorado Springs Sun Friday, December 23, 1983
Commercials, so very important to radio stations and advertisers, are often misunderstood by the public.
That’s according to Phil Emmert, sales manager at KRDO radio, who says, “People are touched by radio everyday. The listen to music, news, weather … but they don’t understand that the production of a radio commercial is important.”
Although some people consider flipping the station when one is aired, commercials provide 100 percent of the revenue of radio stations.
“We haven’t figured out a way to pay for radio other than commercials,” Emmert said.
The trick is to convince those listeners not to switch the dial.
“Igniting the Human Imagination”
“It’s tricky. No, it’s very, very tricky,” said Walt Jaschek, creative director for The Flynn Group Advertising Agency.
Being an auditory medium, radio provides an intangible experience. It’s what Lee Durham of Gabel Advertising calls “word magic.” Mark Cardaronella of Z-93 says it’s “larger than life.” Emmert refers to it as “the theatre of the mind.” And Jaschek dreams of “igniting the human imagination.”
It’s what makes one listener think of a romantic, candlelight dinner when hearing the pop of a champagne cork, while another listener has visions of a broken window.
Because radio touches people differently, commercials are a gamble. Some work and some don’t. Some are good and some are bad.
“It’s a roll of the dice,” Jaschek said.
Jaschek is a copywriter/producer/director of many local commercials, including the Baron’s Saloon “Subliminal Seduction” commercial, which recently captured the “Best of Show” trophy at the 17th annual Pikes Peak Advertising Federation award ceremony.
“I was more surprised than anyone from the reaction of the public and my peers,” he said of his award-winning commercial.
Jaschek said he feels commercials are an artistic endeavor.
“I look at radio as a visual medium,” he said. “No art director can create the same emotional triggers as you can with the power of sound effects.”
Cardaronella, on the other hand, believes that the purpose of a radio commercial is to sell the product. Some commercials that are not artistically pleasing still achieve that goal.
But an offensive radio commercial may prompt a listener to switch the dial, which could be detrimental to a radio station,” particularly during a radio rating period.
“At the same time, there are some exceedingly obnoxious commercials that work better than anything else,” Cardaronella said.
Cardaronella has been at Z-93 two years, since the Transtar radio network placed him as a disc jockey there. Transtar has a satellite 50,000 miles above the equator and beams the signal to subscribers worldwide.
Although a radio station by law cannot refuse an advertiser, it can refuse a commercial because of unacceptable quality,.
Jaschek said when he created the first of five Baron’s Restaurant radio commercials, one FM Station in Colorado Springs refused to air it because it did not have any music.
“The station’s policy, at the time, was to not air commercials without background music,” he said. The station has since changed its policy and airs many voice-only commercials.
“Supply and Demand Situation”
Even though commercials are how radio station stay in business, most stations limit the amount of advertising they carry. In fact, some stations emphasize the fact they offer hours of commercial-free music.
At Z-93 there are four commercial breaks per hour. The breaks are never longer than 2 ½ minutes and not more than three commercials are run consecutively.
Cardaronella said that limiting advertising is smart in the long run.
“It’s a supply and demand situation,” he said. “Listeners want to hear music. Have fewer advertisers costs the station more, but generally it’s a more successful stations because it keeps the listeners.”
The average household has five radios which constantly bombard listeners with information.
“The trick to radio commercials is to break through the radio barrier,” Jaschek said. “You want to be heard, remembered, and remembered well.”
The “Subliminal Seduction” Story
People remembered one of Jaschek’s radio commercials so well, that they began to recit it – in restaurants, on the street, even in a swimming pool.
Jaschek’s 60-second Baron’s Saloon “Subliminal Seduction” commercial, with no music, two voices and simple copy, caused a phenomenal reaction.
And it was written overnight.
The commercial not only brought people to Baron’s Saloon, 310 S. Academy Blvd., but also had the power to prompt listeners to act it out.
Bob Chamberlain, general manager of Baron’s., said the purpose of the commercial was that Baron’s be recognized.
“It works,” he said.
The response was stronger in having people comment on the commercial and mimic it than it was in increasing the volume of customers, Chamberlain said.
Jaschek said his strangest experience came when he overheard two people acting out the commercial in his apartment building’s swimming pool.
He not only wrote, directed and produced this award-winner, but also starred in it by providing the background voice.
The commercial, which denies that Baron’s succumbs to any “subliminal seduction nonsense,” actually tells people to take our their wallets and give Baron’s their money.
First, a booming, announcer voice: “No doubt you’ve heard about this ‘subliminal seduction’ nonsense. You know, commercials that are supposed to have hidden messages in them. Well!”
Then a tiny, mechanical voice in the background: “Come to Baron’s.”
Announcer: Obviously Baron’s has that rare combination of good food…
Subliminal Voice: Take out your wallet.
Announcer: Good fun…
Subliminal Voice: Give us your money.
Announcer: And good prices.
Subliminal Voice: Give us your cash.
And give Baron’s their cash they did. After all, isn’t that what all commercials tell us?
To be effective, a commercial must intrigue the listener, Jaschek said. It must provide information that the listener will retain.
“Many commercials created an adversarial position between the advertiser and the listener,” he said. “The most effective commercials teams up with the listener and doesn’t insult their intelligence.”
Jaschek, who writes and produces six to 12 commercials a month, said the “Subliminal Seduction” commercial targets the young, profession adult who is media-saturated and can identify with the sarcasm and satire.
“In some cases, the most simple is the most complex,” as it was in this case.
What Can Go Right, What Can Go Wrong
What makes an award-winning radio commercial?
The birth of any commercial begins with an idea. Because radio is an intrusive medium which allows you to do other activities such a drive a car or do the dishes, it must be a simple idea.
Jaschek said he can struggle with an idea for a day or a week. And he daydreams a lot.
“There’s really no secret to it. You struggle and struggle and the moral is – you never know,’ he said.
Anything can throw a commercial off: the wrong voice, inaccurate sound effects, even incorrect station placement.
After deciding what information with go into the commercial and how the idea will be conveyed, it is crafted into a 30- or 60-second script.
Then the props must be set up. Will it have music or not? What kind of voices will deliver the words? Are sound effects necessary?
The voices can be professional, such as from the Screen Actor’s Guild union, or people off the street. Jaschek said agencies are always looking for interesting radio voices.
Sound effects are available from tape libraries, which most production companies stock.
A 30-second commercial can take five minutes or all to day to produce. For this market, production can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. And the stations charge a fee for each time the commercial is aired.
Another factor to consider is on which station the commercial will air. Jaschek said the commercial should fit the station’s target audience.
After all of the considerations, whether the commercial will instill magic in the listener’s imagination or instill the desire the change the station, is always up to the listener.
With great power comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes fame, fortune, last-act misfortunes, a cross-maze of lawsuits, and a boatload of movie cameos. Walt Jaschek reviews Abraham Riesman’s new biography, True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. It’s in hardcover and Kindle on Amazon. Check current price. #affiliatelink Here are my … Continue reading Review of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee
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Copywriter Walt Jaschek recalls a college poster campaign concept he pitched to the Budweiser team at Anheuser Busch. Did the Cooler Heads prevail? Happy first day of Summer! Here’s a seasonal flashback from back in the day, when I was invited by the Budweiser promo team to pitch ideas for a college poster campaign with … Continue reading Cooler Heads Prevail in this Beer Promo Pitch