#STLMADE Writer Walt Jaschek Showcases St. Louis Stories for TheSTL.com

Appearances, Content Writing, Walt a Life

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!

Former Current Editors Walt Jaschek and Paul Fey Become a Story In Themselves

Press Coverage, Radio Commercials, Walt a Life

 

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Former Current Editors Inducted Into St. Louis Media Hall of Fame

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!

2019 St. Louis Addy Award Winners: Congratulations! 1989 St. Louis Addy Award Winners: Hey, That’s Me!

Award-Winning, Flashbacks, Press Coverage, Walt a Life

By Walt Jaschek

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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.)

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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.

“This Is Care:” Award-Winning Hospital Advertising Campaign

Award-Winning, Campaigns, Concepting and Copywriting

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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.

“Alan’s Heart”

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Headlines: “This is the machine that healed Alan’s heart.” / “This is Alan’s heart.”


Donna’s Life

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Headlines: “This is the CyberKnife™ that saved Donna’s life.” / “This is Donna’s life.”



“Steve’s Blood Flowing”

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Headlines: “This is the stroke-preventing device that keeps Steve’s blood flowing.” / “This is Steve’s blood flowing.” 



“Nathan”

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Headlines: “This is the monitor that keeps close tabs on Nathan.” / “This is Nathan.”


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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

Walt Jaschek home

“What Would Winona Want?” My Avatar-Based System for Whiteboard Brainstorming Sessions

Brainstorms, Ideation, Whiteboards

Pssst! Someone’s missing from our messaging meetings. Not Marissa. She’s still at lunch with the client. Good. Not Marv. He’s under his headphones. Let him be.

The missing person is­­­­­­ our prospect.

That’s “prospect,” singular, not “prospects,” plural, nor (ugh) “target audience.” F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Begin with an individual, and you find that you have created a type; begin with a type, and you find that you have created… nothing.”

An individual prospect should be present in all messaging meetings — not physically, fun as that would be — but virtually. If we don’t have research, qualitative and quantitative, then the prospect P.O.V. can be represented via a unique scientific innovation I call “best guess.”

It starts like this. On the whiteboard I draw a cartoon figure of the prospect, give that “person” a name, because a real name invokes a real conversation, and for the sake of this post, let’s call “her” “Winona,” and if that name invokes a certain film actress, well, pure coincidence. (Paid stock photo above notwithstanding.)

Then we as a group look at the cartoon avatar and list a few things we “know” about this person. Often, participants in the session can be effortlessly, ridiculously specific, because they often actually know, In Real Life, an individual prospect: “She loves her new Tesla.” “She only drinks reds.” “She probably has never heard of our product.”

These avatars, then, “participate” in the brainstorm, as we channel their reactions to our messaging ideas. When someone takes a stab at a differentiator – “our people make the difference” – we toss that to Winona. Maybe she agrees; maybe she calls “B.S.” But at some ideas, she smiles, and I draw the smile. The ones we feel she truly “gets” are usually more relevant, more authentic, and, praise Odin, less complex.

About that, a great book called Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn, says this:

“Complexity is a coward’s way out. There is nothing simple about simplicity, and achieving it requires empathizing (by perceiving others’ needs and expectations), distilling (by reducing to its essence the substance of one’s offer) and clarifying (by making the offer easier to understand and use).”

Hmmm. That’s a lot of parentheses for a paragraph about simplicity. But of course I believe they’re right. And I believe the mission of message strategists is not to make our product or service understandable. It’s to make our prospect feel understood.

And at that, look: Winona smiles!

To engage Walt Jaschek to lead or participate in a prospect-channeling whiteboard session, use this contact form, or ask Winona to ask him to call you.

Why we created the Herobots™: It begins with a bored boy…

Coloring Books, Creator-Owned, Herobots, Walt a Life

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By Walt Jaschek

When I approached ace St. Louis illustrators Don Secrease and Bill Lux for help in bringing to life The Herobots and launching the characters in a coloring and games book, I was thinking of a bored 6-year-old boy. And myself.

It started with a specific 6-year-old boy. A crabby, impatient, hungry one. I don’t know his name. But he was part of a big crowd enduring a long wait in the lobby of a pancake restaurant with his mother. He was squirming, and I could tell he was desperate for some stimulation, any stimulation. His mother didn’t engage him; didn’t hand him a pencil and paper; or even her phone. (I guess I should be happy about that part.)

I felt the restless boredom radiate out of this young man, and I immediately I wished I had on me a coloring book young kids might like, about, oh, say, superhero robot action figures. I wished I could also hand him some crayons and tell him to “have at.” (With Mom’s permission, of course.) I even had a name bouncing around my mind: the HEROBOTS.

A few months later, after great work by Don and Bill, working from a script by me, we sent to the printers Herobots Coloring and Games Book #1. Here’s the front cover…

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Here’s the back cover.herobots-backcover

Here are a few pages from the story-to-color. The Herobots are actually action figures, you see, by day, living on the shelf of Sally’s Comics and Toys store. 

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2009646_herobots-coloringbook2-int (1)_Page_13The plot thickens.

And yes, there are also games!

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The 48-page softcover is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but it’s the stack of hard copies I keep on me at busy pancake restaurants that I value most. Because these are the copies I can hand…

…to give random, bored 6-year olds. Bless them. Because I am one of them. Always. It’s why I create, I think. Or at least why I created this video preview of the first few pages of the book. Warning: the narration is by me. (Which you can turn off — just watch the captions!)

So, you ask, is the Herobots Coloring and Games book selling on Amazon and Barnes and Noble? We wouldn’t say it’s selling like, well, pancakes. But we don’t mind. It’s that moment of handing one to a bored kid — for free — that makes up for it.

And speaking of free…

Here’s a FREE boredom-busting bonus!  With just a few clicks, parents of young readers and colorists can get FREE downloadable, printable coloring pages of the Herobots and their foes. Bots of fun for rainy days.

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I like to imagine a restless 6-year-old being a little less bored now.

At least for a while.

Walt Jaschek home

Free, Downloadable Coloring Pages of the Herobots™: Superhero Robots and Dinosaurs

Coloring Books, Coloring Pages, Creator-Owned, Herobots

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Walt Jaschek and Don Secrease offer free, downloadable coloring pages of superhero robots: the stars of the Herobots Coloring and Games Book #1. Below, you’ll see the three Herobots  — Props, Wheely and Fynn — along with their foes, TREX and the Terrobot. Want to download any and all for the young colorist in your life? Just drag the image to your desktop, click on it, and hit “print.”

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Want more Herobots action? Take a look at the Herobots Coloring and Games Book, for young readers, on sale on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble

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 They are the Herobots! They’re bots of fun!

(P.S. Read about WHY we created the Herobots. It begins with a bored boy…)

©2010-2018 Walt Jaschek, Don Secrease and Bill Lux.

Walt Jaschek home.

How to Kill a Pitch: Video Satirizing Ad Biz

Concepting and Copywriting, Entertainment, Humor Writing, Original Content, Short Films, Videos

Oh, creatives! Don’t fall on that sword over your favorite idea. Certainly don’t pull pistols! “How to Kill a Pitch” is a cautionary comedy video Walt Jaschek wrote on this subject, directed by Angie Lawling, shot by Chris Lawling, produced by Mercury Films. All in good fun: it’s movie blood. Client not loving your latest idea? There’s another one, you know. Come up with it and live, damn it!

Spoiler: look for a cameo by Walt himself in the final scene, amid the “agency in waiting.” Full credits on IMDB.

Bonus: For those who like to read this sort of thing, here’s…

“How to Kill a Pitch”: The Shooting Script
by Walt Jaschek

Characters:

Jon / Creative Director – Agency
Jeanette / Account Director – Agency
Bernard / Chief Marketing Officer – Client
Brooke / Marketing Manager – Client
Ethan / Office Assistant – Client

Extras: The next agency in line to present / 3 people, non-speaking, cameo

BLACK SCREEN

Fade in title: How to Kill a Pitch

Fade up sound of a small group laughing. Title fades out and the laughter bridges across the CUT TO:

INT – CLIENT CONFERENCE ROOM

Jon and Jeanette are wrapping up a presentation to clients Bernard and Brooke. It’s obviously gone well. The laughter is dying down. Jon puts the last of a series of foam core boards face down on a stack.

JON:  And with that final, funny scene, this spot serves as climax to a completely integrated, cross-platform marketing campaign that is “locked and loaded.” Let’s pull that trigger.

JEANETTE:  And from a strategy perspective, it is right on strategy. Right. On.

BERNARD:  Well, Jon, Jeanette: this is fantastic work. Wonderful. A home run. Hilarious, memorable, unforgettable, really. I was totally entertained every second.

Brooke is agreeing with her boss via a series of verbal cues:  “Right, Uh-huh, it is, yes.” The agency people are beaming. Bernard, though, has one more card to play.

BERNARD:  But…

Uh-oh. The agency people trade glances. It’s the “but.” The client’s demeanor changes to a concerned scowl.

BERNARD:  I worry. Is it TOO entertaining? TOO engaging? If we go on the air with something this noticeable, this excellent, will the spot wear out faster? Will people get tired of it? Will we have set a standard of being “excellent” that we’ll have to meet each time?

He gives the word “excellent” air quotes, of course.

Jon and Marcy are completely drained by this exasperating reaction, which they’ve obviously heard before.  It’s just too much.

JON (to Jeanette):  Will you just kill me now?

JEANETTE:  I’m sorry?

JON:  Will you kill me? Right now? Here? On the spot.

Jeanette considers this with sobriety.

JEANETTE: Well, hmmm, yes. Yes, I will. But only if you kill me simultaneously.

JON:  Simultaneously? 

JEANETTE:  Yes.

JON:  That’s a deal.

JEANETTE: Let’s do it.

JON:  I’m in.

Jon pulls a pistol from his sock.  Jeanette pulls a pistol from a Coach handbag.

The clients seem to be bemused by this. But sure enough, the CD and AE point the guns at each other.  Creative director counts down:  “3… 2…. 1…. now.”

Reaction shot of the clients as the creative director and account executive shoot each other in the heads.  BLAM! BLAM! The clients get a little splattered blood on them. We see the bodies of the CD and AE slump to the floor.

But the clients aren’t really disturbed. Brooke turns to Bernard with a studied earnestness.

BROOKE: I don’t think he knew how to answer your question.

Bernard nods. This is the right response from his subordinate. The onus is on the agency, which obviously flaked out.

KER-CHUNK! The client assistant, Ethan, opens the door to the conference room.

ETHAN THE ASSISTANT: Shall I send in the next agency?

Bernard and Brooke straighten, gather papers.  Brooke smiles up at Ethan.

BERNARD:  Certainly.

BROOKE:  Yes, please do.

CUT TO: EXTERIOR HALLWAY

Ethan, holding the smile, turn and looks down the hallway.

REVERSE ANGLE – HALLWAY – ETHAN’S POINT OF VIEW

A group of anxious, smiling people from the next agency, all holding their presentation materials, looking to Ethan for the “come hither” signal.

REVERSE ANGLE – Back to Ethan

With a small hand gesture, he beckons the next agency to advance.

CUT TO BLACK

CREDITS SEQUENCE

Quick single-screen credit cuts and scroll over a lively, jaunty “Ragtime” tune.

“See?,” the music seems to say. “It was all in good fun.”

THE END

Walt Jaschek home

Marvel Comics Flashback: Walt’s Team-Up With Jim Lee in What The–?! #5

Collaborators, Comic Writing, Comics, Humor Writing

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Walt Jaschek looks back on his story in What The–? #5, Marvel’s self-parody comic, originally published in 1989. Walt recalls:

“Just as my freelance writing business was heating up, my friend and superstar comic artist invited me to do a short piece in Marvel’s humor anthology” His idea was teaming up characters who really didn’t belong together. I called it ‘Ill-Conceived Character Couplings.’  As I look back now, I see it was really a bunch of inside jokes for those reading comic at the time. But it was such a privilege to work with Jim and get that first check from Marvel. Even now I think back and say, ‘Did that really happen?’ In other words: ‘What The–?'”

Here is the Hilary Barta’s cover to the issue, followed by the story itself. Credits below.

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“Ill-Conceived Character Couplings: Team-Ups That Just Wouldn’t Work”
Comic for Marvel’s parody anthology What The–?! The Marvel Mag of Mirth and Mayhem (Issue #5, 1989.) Script: Walt Jaschek. Plot and Pencils: Jim Lee. Inks: Al Milgrom. Letters: Jim Parker. Cover: Hilary Barta.

See more comics written by Walt