“Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

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, transferred them to digital, and asked Paul to remind us why this campaign existed and how it came to be. Here’s what he said!


The VP Parade was an extremely important local programming event for Channel 4… not only for the major revenue that would be generated from a local program, but because it also indirectly served as powerful cross-promotion for its news team, who would be heavily visible while covering the event.

A “Big Mistake” occurred when TV Guide did not correctly include the listing for the VP Parade coverage, and instead left the normal weekly listing for Family Feud. Without a crucial TV Guide listing (which was actually a big deal in those days), Channel 4 had missed a major opportunity for exposure, and all felt lost. The magazine was already in print. There was no way to get the incorrect listing changed by the time it was discovered, only a few days before the event.

Out of sheer frustration and in order to amuse himself (this was NOT an assignment), Paul Fey wrote the campaign later that night after the irretrievable “Big Mistake” was discovered. He pitched it to General Manager Allan Cohen the next day. Allan loved it, and Paul enlisted friend Walt Jaschek as the on-camera talent.

The Creative Services team launched into action. shooting it, produced it, and putting it on the air within about 24 hours. The three spots ran heavily over a total of 3-4 days leading up to the day of the actual event.

Even without the correct TV Guide listing, Channel 4 handily won the time slot anyway.

Afterward, Allan said this: “You guys somehow always manage to find a way to turn chicken shit into chicken salad. This time, you turned chicken shit into Chicken Cordon Bleu.”



What are we doing now? Paul runs World Wide Wadio in Hollywood, California.,

Walt runs a YouTube channel and the entertainment empire, Copywriters In Love.

Recently

Walt & Don Launch Boastess® Fructose Pies™

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™

Christopher McKarton: Retired Detective

He’s seen it all. And solved it all. But when an 8mm movie of his past shows up, Christoper McKarton might be back in the game. The Retired Detective A novel with video By Walt Jaschek My name is Christopher McKarton. I’m a detective. Or I was. I’m retired. Blissfully. I prefer detecting buds in … Continue reading Christopher McKarton: Retired Detective

Hero Nots™

Are they heroes? Are they super? NOT. The new, reluctant team from writer Walt Jaschek and Walt Now Films now has its own site. Hero Nots™ Episode 1 Screenplay by Walt Jaschek This is an excerpt from The Hero Nots screenplay I’m writing. Hope to wrap up the script in 2021, cast and shoot in … Continue reading Hero Nots™

Satin Brass™ Now on Kindle Vella

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 glistening city of the near future. She’s is beautiful yes, but also tough: like satin brass, the golden, metallic alloy for which she is named. She’s half-Italian (Dad) and half-Latina (Mom,) and her light brown skin sheens. But never sweats.

Clad in thin, chain-mail fabric armor; steampunk-like goggles for enhanced perception; and fingerless gloves with circuits controlling her tech, Satin Brass is brash. An athletic 26-year-old with ninja training, Satin’s strength and agility are enhanced with injections of Martian vitamins given to her by her Mars-born lover, D’Arx D’Rax. Satin is known as the most persistent finder in the field. She doesn’t like the term “bounty hunter,” though. She prefers to call herself an “overdue accounts collector.”

Keep reading Satin Brass on Kindle Vella

Satin Brass is a trademark of Walt Jaschek and is © 2021

Latest from Walt

“Big Mistake” | Funny TV Campaign for Channel 4 St. Louis (1985)

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)

Walt “calls in” to St. Louis Media Hall of Fame Ceremony

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

How to Kill a Pitch: Comedy Short, Script by Walt

“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

How to Kill a Pitch: Comedy Short, Script by Walt

“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!

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

Christopher McKarton: 1974 comic strip debut

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 on September 12, 1974, in the weekly newspaper distributed to 7,000 students of the University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL.) It garnered some fans.

Christopher McKarton™ Week 1

By Walt Jaschek and Gary Hoffman

Keep scrolling for Week 2 of Christopher McKarton.

Bonus feature: Here is how this comic appeared as published in the September 12, 1974, issue of The UMSL CURRENT. It is, in fact, issue #200.

Christopher McKarton is © 1974 – 2022 Walt Now Studios.

Christopher McKarton Week 2

Christopher McKarton Week 3

Who is the mysterious intruder who has taken over UMSL’s administration building? Why is he demanding to see the University President? And who is… the hostage? Watch for more of Christopher McKarton — as soon as I find more of the art!

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Satin Brass™ Now on Kindle Vella

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

22-Minute Writing Sprint

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

HyperX Quadcast Review: Cool Mic, Good Price, Hear It In Action

Walt Now fires up his new HyperX Quadcast USB external mic and records a video with it – to review the mic itself. (It’s on Amazon. #ad) Looking for a good, external USB mic for your home/office? Found a cool one! I realized I needed an external USB mic to up my YouTube game (and … Continue reading HyperX Quadcast Review: Cool Mic, Good Price, Hear It In Action

Bad Ash™: Coming Soon from Walt Now Studios

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 the near future. Located somewhere in the Americas, it’s even called… Future City. 

Ash is beautiful yes, but also tough. She’s half-Italian (Dad) and half-Latina (Mom,) and her light brown skin sheens. But never sweats.

Clad in thin, chain-mail fabric-armor; steampunk-like goggles for enhanced perception; and fingerless gloves with circuits controlling her tech, Bad Ash is brash. As an athletic 26-year-old with ninja training, her strength and agility are enhanced with injections of Martian vitamins given to her by her Mars-born lover, D’Arx D’Rax.

Bad Ash is known as the most persistent finder in the field. She doesn’t like the term “bounty hunter,” though. She prefers to call herself an “overdue accounts collector.” Makes a whole lot of commission$ for it. But she’s also a gum-popping wisecracker, and has been since high school; that hasn’t changed.

Her most recent employer: Bigg Bounty, a skyscraper-dwelling corporation whose sole service is bounty hunting on a global scale. B.A. is one of their star hunters. But as we shall see in her first story, she’s trying to quit Bigg to go freelance. She already resigned, but now she must collect the hundred grand in severance pay Bigg’s contract promised her. 

She’ll get it. Or die trying.

“Bad Ash: In It to Quit It.” Coming soon from Walt Now Studios.

Meanwhile, buy the original art by Walt Jaschek.

Bad Ash™ is trademark and © 2021 Walt Now Studios.

Latest from the Blog

Christopher McKarton: 1974 comic strip debut

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

Is Paul Blart: Mall Cop Based on Mel Cool: Map Cop?

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?

Review of True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

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

New Sponsor: Fructose Pies™

Walt Now Studios and its entertainment productions are brought to you by Boastess™ Fructose Pies. Five delicious, delectable flavor combinations. Huckleberry! Coconut Pitaya! Crabapple Persimmon! Tomato Ugli! See for yourself. Click through these packages as you dream of these delights.

Boastess™ Fructose Pies™

There’s a sugar crash in every dash!

Making your mouth water? Want another bite? Watch for new Boastess™ Fructose Pie™ content coming soon from:

Walt Jaschek: Concept Creator

Don Secrease: Flavor Namer and Package Designer

© 2021 Walt Now Studios

Latest from the Blog

Bad Ash™: Coming Soon from Walt Now Studios

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

Cooler Heads Prevail in this Beer Promo Pitch

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

Walt’s Words of Wisdom: Cilantro

Writer Walt Now has “a line in the sand” when it comes to a certain controversial herb. He’s talkin’ cilantro, and he says the only right way to think about it is: love. As I was saying: There are two kinds of people in the world. People who love cilantro. And people who are wrong. … Continue reading Walt’s Words of Wisdom: Cilantro

Cooler Heads Prevail in this Beer Promo Pitch

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 a summer thme. I concocted characters called “The Cooler Heads” who would “prevail” until school resumed in Fall.

The group laughed…

But didn’t buy it.

Oh, well. Truth is, when I rediscovered this pencil layout and the Anheuser-Busch name badge still stuck to it, I remembered: Even when not every idea we pitched was bought… we were having too much fun.

As for The Cooler Heads, they deserve to appear somewhere. Beer clients? Water clients? Cooler clients? Gimme a shout. This idea has legs!

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New Sponsor: Fructose Pies™

Walt Now Studios and its entertainment productions are brought to you by Boastess™ Fructose Pies. Five delicious, delectable flavor combinations. Huckleberry! Coconut Pitaya! Crabapple Persimmon! Tomato Ugli! See for yourself. Click through these packages as you dream of these delights. Boastess™ Fructose Pies™ There’s a sugar crash in every dash! Making your mouth water? Want … Continue reading New Sponsor: Fructose Pies™

Rediscovered! Rare, Star-Studded 1992 CBS-TV Holiday Spot

Scriptwriter Walt Jaschek finds rare, 1992 CBS-TV holiday spot with performances by dozens of TV stars of the day. Here’s a holiday TV blast from the past, never before seen on the internet, at least as far as we know. In 1992, CBS-TV offered our agency Paul & Walt Worldwide the opportunity to write and … Continue reading Rediscovered! Rare, Star-Studded 1992 CBS-TV Holiday Spot

Copywriting Freelance: Profit and Prosper Without Pants | Intro

This is the intro to an eBook I am writing about the joys and challenges of freelance copywriting. I love writing freelance. Have made a good living at it. And want to help others do the same. “Can I thrive, even survive, as a freelance copywriter?,” you ask. Yes, you can. You can make a … Continue reading Copywriting Freelance: Profit and Prosper Without Pants | Intro

Rediscovered! Rare, Star-Studded 1992 CBS-TV Holiday Spot

Scriptwriter Walt Jaschek finds rare, 1992 CBS-TV holiday spot with performances by dozens of TV stars of the day.

Here’s a holiday TV blast from the past, never before seen on the internet, at least as far as we know.

In 1992, CBS-TV offered our agency Paul & Walt Worldwide the opportunity to write and submit scripts for its annual, big-deal, on-air holiday promo spot. The network had aired one annually since the dawn of the medium. Intended as a sincere gesture to express a sentiment on behalf of the brand, they’re seen and appreciated by tens of millions of TV viewers each year.

(Before it became a Paul & Walt client, the network had a long and happy relationship with Paul Fey, my partner; I wouldn’t have had a chance to work on any of these national campaigns if not for him.)

In submitting our stack of scripts, we included my holiday poem, “The Wish,” written specifically for the stars of the network’s hit shows of the day, and intended to be performed by them. Holiday miracle: our pals in the promo department bought it! And brought it to amazing life with their in-house production crew.

From Angela Lansbury (“Murder, She Wrote”) to William Shatner (“Rescue 911”) to Burt Reynolds (“Evening Shade,”) these iconic actors brought their holiday A-game to the performances. Thought lost to time, the 30-second spot showed up on a VHS tape in the bottom of a box at the bottom of another box. Yeah. I had it digitized.

Take a breath. Here are a dizzying array of 1990s TV icons. And their holiday wishes.

Script
CBS-TV
The Wish”
:30 TV

JAY THOMAS: We wish you the gift…

SUSAN DEY: That love can bring.

JOHN RITTER: The gift that keeps on giving.

BURT REYNOLDS: I wish for just one win this year!

ESTELLE GETTY: I wish to just keep living!

ANGELA LANSBURY: I wish you love and lasting joy.

DIXIE CARTER: We wish you a scrumptious diet!

WILLIAM SHATNER: I wish you hope and peace on Earth.

BOB NEWHART: Or at least some peace and quiet.

JANINE TURNER: We wish you warm and cozy nights.

MICHELLE LEE: And the greatest wish of all…

GERALD McRANEY: ..is a wish you make with your family.

CHARLES KIMBROUGH: No matter how big…

CANDICE BERGEN: …or how small. Happy holidays! ‘

© 1992 Walt Jaschek and CBS-TV

Shows represented: Love & War, Hearts Afire, Evening Shade, The Golden Palace, Murder, She Wrote; Designing Women; Rescue 911; Bob; Knot’s Landing; Major Dad; Murphy Brown.

Copywriting Freelance: Profit and Prosper Without Pants | Intro

This is the intro to an eBook I am writing about the joys and challenges of freelance copywriting. I love writing freelance. Have made a good living at it. And want to help others do the same.

“Can I thrive, even survive, as a freelance copywriter?,” you ask. Yes, you can.

You can make a difference with your writing powers.

You can move minds, heal hearts, invoke smiles, and sometimes unleash an unexpected laugh.

And you can make a real living at it. Not buy-a-small-country living, but buy a cool house living, and gosh darn it, aren’t all our homes our small countries?

Best of all, day and night, you can concentrate on the work, not the illusions and kabuki theatre of work, like, say, status meetings.

You know. “Huddles.”

You can stay home. And jam in your jammies.

It’s a little thing I like to call…

Copywriting freelance.

And I’m here to walk you through it.

Hello.

I’m Walt Jaschek, AKA Walt Now.

And I’ve had a long career as a freelance copywriter, profiting and prospering without pants.

But let’s talk about you.

Perhaps you are sitting in ad agency, working already as a copywriter. Sure, you love exposed brick as much as anybody. And that glow-in-the-dark pool table is a fun distraction. But you’d actually like to write.

You know Steve in traffic? You know how he shows up at 4 p.m. and asks for the status of your copy? And then asks your to list your favorite Zombie movies in alpha order? Steve is the obstacle to Deep Work.

Steves are always the obstacles of Deep Work.

Perhaps you are already a freelance copywriter by choice.

Or perhaps you are already a freelance copywriter by circumstance.

Congratulations to the former for seeing the light and making that jump. Leap and the net will appear, I say. Or somebody said, and I agree.

And if you’re a “circumstance” freelancer, relax. You’ve got this. I promise that, with the right mindset, you will get more done at home then you could ever accomplished in a cube.

And with that higher productivity comes the ability to (1) charge more for your hours, and (2) bill for more of them.

But we’ll get to that.

Perhaps you are a student in the realms of marketing, advertising, communications, creative writing or languages, starting to define yourself as a copywriter. You wonder if freelancing might extend the life of a student into the world of work.

Ha! It so will. My home office is half dorm. Step around that rebounder.

But to you, grads and undergrads, I say do not go directly into freelance writing as a career. You must first taste the Corp Rut. I mean, corporate. You must experience the office, as in, The Office, to make the kind of human connections you will need when you go rouge.

You will also develop a sense of agency-as-absurdity that will help you when writing like a caffeinated commander at your kitchen table.

So this book, students, is for you to read when you’re already in That First Job. Or Second. Scroll it on your phone as you savor Sauce on the Side.

To existing copywriters then, this book is dedicated. Congratulations on being a keyboard wizard, for using your powers to turn letters into words, words into sentences, heads into the stratosphere, and hearts into mush. (I see you, Ms. Senior Writer at Hallmark.)

If you are curious about the perspective of a copywriter who has managed to freelance almost exclusively for more than 30 years…

Who has put a couple of kids through college, funded multiple mortgages, bought tons of comic books yet managed to save for semi-retirement…

And who now wants to find the right mix of encouragement and practical advice for you on your freelance copywriting journey…

Here we go.

Can I really do this?, you ask. To repeat my central theme:

Yes, you can.

Next: All it takes is talent. And luck.

“Freelance Copywriter Steals Show.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February, 1989

Walt Jaschek is a champion of great copywriting. As creative collaborator, mentor, and freelance copywriter, he pushes to craft memorable stories with humor, pizazz and verve. For his award-winning, national ad campaigns for global brands, he was inducted by the St. Louis Media History Foundation into the city’s advertising and PR Hall of Fame. A life-long freelancer, he is declaring “I’m not history yet,” and is still open to juicy writing and consulting assignments, especially for friends and family.

St. Louis V.I.P: Jaschek Wins With Humor

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.

Related:

A Big Hand For The Little Agency: Adweek Magazine

Walt Jaschek and His Basement Humor: St. Louis Business Journal

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My Copywriting Tips and Advice from 1984

“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 WallaceColorado Springs Business Journal, January, 1984 … Continue reading My Copywriting Tips and Advice from 1984

How Jerry Berger Rocket-Boosted My Career

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 … Continue reading How Jerry Berger Rocket-Boosted My Career

Smirk Du Jour: Slightly Bent Panel Cartoons

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How Jerry Berger Rocket-Boosted My Career

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.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 20, 1989

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.)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, February 20, 1989

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.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 22, 1989

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.”

St. Louis Post Dispatch, April 24, 1989

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…”

Jerry Berger

But who did Jerry call to fill out the column on this radio industry legend? The “pup” in his “South Side shop!”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 1, 1990

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.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June, 1991

CBS ad campaigns like this resulted from meetings like that.

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.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 9, 1994

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.

I’m glad I picked up.

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