The One Club 2017 Creative Hall of Fame: A Class Above
By Brett McKenzie on Sep 23, 2017
It's a night of firsts as The One Club inducts its most diverse Creative Hall of Fame year yet
Group portrait by Donna Alberico / Margarita Corporan Photography
When the One Club for Creativity was formed earlier this year, it brought together the very best elements of the One Club and the Art Directors Club — including their respective Halls of Fame. Between the two organizations, more than 200 advertisers, designers, illustrators, photographers and educators have earned their place in history. On Monday night, five more legends were honored in what would be the most diverse class in Creative Hall of Fame history.
The cavernous opulence of New York’s Gotham Hall — a 93-year-old former bank building with Roman architectural and design elements — was the perfect venue for a ceremony of this nature. On this particular evening, the combined Halls of Fame would welcome their first Latina laureate and their first African-American advertising creative, and for the first time in history, the women inductees outnumbered the men.
The gala took on an even greater air of importance when One Club CEO Kevin Swanepoel warmly acknowledged the past inductees of the One Club and ADC Halls of Fame in attendance to welcome in the new class. This pantheon of greats included golden age “mad men” George Lois and Len Sirowitz and their next generation counterparts Dan Wieden and Steve Hayden; celebrated designers Paul Davis and Bob Gill; famed Graphis publisher B. Martin Pedersen; and revered School of Visual Arts educators Richard Wilde and Kevin O’Callaghan.
For the first honor of the evening, Martin Agency CCO Joe Alexander had the pleasure of inducting Diane Cook-Tench, the founder of what has grown to become Richmond’s VCU Brandcenter, arguably one of the most respected advertising schools in the world. “The best thing about this industry has always been the talented people who have been attracted to it,” Diane remarked, dabbing away tears of pride. In a lighthearted moment, Diane remarked that although it wasn’t in her initial plan, creating the Brandcenter led to more than 40 marriages between grads over the years.
In the advertising history books, especially as it pertains to African-Americans both within the industry and the culture it reflects and creates, Burrell Communications looms large. For the second inductee of the gala, Burrell Co-CEO McGhee Williams Osse and EVP/CCO Lewis Williams welcomed their agency’s founder and namesake, the iconic Tom Burrell. In an only slightly joking tone, Tom thanked the organization for putting “...a dark spot in that eternal sea of whiteness” that makes up the bulk of the Hall of Fame.
Tom also recalled recently attending the funeral of comedian and activist Dick Gregory, alongside such civil rights icons as C.T. Vivian and Congressman John Lewis, while he himself merely being someone who wrote commercials selling burgers and fries. “The thing that was most profound was that those people said to me ‘thank you for what you do,’” he remarked. “Wait a minute, you were out on the frontline getting halfway beaten to death, and you're thanking me?” To Tom, this was a recognition that surpassed even his Hall of Fame induction.
The evening then took a decidedly musical turn, as the third inductee, Wieden&Kennedy’s CCO Susan Hoffman, was serenaded with a bouncy ditty performed by none other than The von Trapps. Accompanied by Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale on piano, and synchronized to a video of three decades of work, the descendants of The Sound of Music-inspiring family mused “how do you solve a problem like Susan Hoffman?”
As it would turn out, Susan Hoffman isn't a problem to be solved, but rather an energy and ethos to be embraced. After being introduced by Apple exec and W&K alum Bill Davenport, Susan offered effusive praise for those who made her phenomenal career possible, and allowed her to cartwheel through the halls. Susan made a plea for the advertising industry to remember a simpler time, when agencies were allowed to fail, and to scare themselves and their clients with provocative ideas rather than research. “Don’t let our left brains take over. Don’t let too much data, too many opinions and meetings suffocate creativity. Let’s use our guts and intuition and emotion, to find that chord that excites and challenges us as humans,” wryly adding “we aren’t robots yet!”
For the fourth induction of the evening, COLLINS Co-Founder Brian Collins introduced his longtime friend — designer, artist, academic and former Olympic-level gymnast(!) Rebeca Méndez. Rebeca reflected on her upbringing in Mexico, one that exposed her to the natural world and sustainability, inspiring her to incorporating them into into her career long before it was trendy. Now a naturalized US citizen, Rebeca also used the moment to make a fervent plea to embrace the diversity of immigrants and other minorities in order to change the world. “Clearly we are making progress, yet I think we all recognize that we have a way to go in acknowledging all of the exceptional people in our field.”
For the gala’s fifth and final laureate, BBDO Worldwide President & CEO Andrew Robertson gave a heartfelt and very personal introduction to his colleague, Global CCO and North American Chairman David Lubars. Stating his belief to always work with great people, David humbly thanked an extensive list of past and current colleagues who helped make him the success he is today, as well as the friends and family that kept him grounded. David thanked his father, former ad exec Walter Lubars, mentioning his past work with 1985 Hall of Fame laureate Len Sirowitz who was in attendance.
In closing, David also encouraged everyone to not only always be learning, but to always be unlearning. “We need to shed the tropes, the safety valves, the bandwagon trends that freezes us in mediocre concrete,” he implored. “You must unlearn, so that you may lurch into the undiscovered, the uncomfortable, the scary — into the effervescent."
As the evening drew to a close, Founder and CCO of The Community and One Club Board of Directors Chairman José Mollá reminded the audience of a longstanding Creative Hall of Fame tradition — a champagne toast led by an already inducted creative leader. This night, the honor was bestowed upon Steve Hayden. “Congratulations, Hall of Famers, and thank you for representing so many different parts of our rich tapestry, and thereby making us all much richer.”
Reflecting on an old quote passed onto him by BBDO icons Phil Dusenberry and Allen Rosenshine, Steve raised his glass high and exclaimed “if anything good ever happens in advertising, celebrate immediately.”
And after a long evening of platitudes and honors, celebrate we did.