In a season four episode of Mad Men, Don Draper won a CLIO Award for his work on the Glo-Coat campaign. Alcohol-fueled misbehavior and office tensions ensued. The Observer was eager to relive those moments at the Museum of Natural History, where the “Oscars of advertising” were given out last night.
Mingling in the museum’s entrance hall with a sea of young Peggys and Pete Campbells who were enjoying the effects of a 1.5 hour cocktail hour, The Observer moved artfully to avoid knocking over a Barosaurus. Happy to make the acquaintance of a delightful retiree, The Observer inquired about his brilliantly floral tie. The man had worn it to the Glyndebourne opera house, with its decidedly formal dress code, and received high praise, so he was confident it would pass muster in this crowd. He needn’t have thought twice about it as the attire present could be described as creative industry formal, a hearty mix of yuppie blazer/jean combos, architectural spectacles and a dearth of neckties.
As the open bar shut down guests regretfully relinquished their glasses and made their way through the Hall of Mammals for the ceremony. Spirits rose again when host Joan Rivers took the stage, apologizing for a case of laryngitis. “I was in Colombia and wouldn’t leave until the son of a bitch Secret Service agent gave me my $47,” she said, by way of explanation. A little throat tickle didn’t slow the down the already raspy voiced doyenne whose rapid-fire delivery was met with shock and awe. (Of the ubiquitous E*Trade ads she quipped, “Every time I see that baby, I go, ‘Where’s Casey Anthony when you need her?’”)
The attention-deficited in attendance were delighted by the fact that advertising celebrities value brevity much more than their Hollywood counterparts. Perhaps owing to the time limitations inherent in their medium, acceptance speeches were blessedly concise. Though mainstays like BBDO and Ogilvy and Mather were among the winners, the presentation certainly seemed updated since the Mad Men days, with prizes going to a campaign called “The Return of Dictator Ben Ali,” which was an effort to get out the vote in Tunisia, and Chipotle’s much-emailed “Back to the Start” video.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain were honored for their contributions to the creative fields. Leibovitz proved that these creative gifts include a wry sense of humor when presented with her statue, which was crystal unlike the others given during the evening. “I was actually hoping to get a gold one. I thought I’d melt it down,” she said, a playful allusion her much publicized cash flow woes.
Bourdain, who was introduced by fellow chef Gabrielle Hamilton, credited his introduction to the advertising world to his family’s record industry ties. “We were very, very aware of what you did in this industry. George Lois, Saul Bass, those were heroes in my house,” he recalled.
Upon the ceremony’s conclusion, those desiring yet another open bar made their way back across the museum where an after-party was getting underway in the Hall of Ocean Life. Ms. Rivers, the lady of the night, arrived in true style. Rolling up avec entourage in a golf cart, her chauffeur took an extra spin around, allowing her to check out the tropical forest exhibit. Those CLIO winners hoping their trophies would ensure them life-of-the-party status were likely disappointed, as the appearance of Ms. Rivers caused guests to respond with an enthusiasm befitting a tween pop star. Upon catching sight of her gown’s wide sequin-emblazoned sleeves, an endless stream of people jumped in line to take a picture with her.
Rivers has appeared in commercials for Geico, Go Daddy and Goodrich over the years. Is there a product she’d love to shill for? “Osteoporosis!” she told The Observer. “I’m the national chairwoman and they never use me!” Ms. Rivers’s voice was still bothering her as she strained to be heard over the loudly pulsating music and a loyal friend stepped in to play translator. The Observer told her how much we loved her appearance with 50 Cent in a new ad for his energy drink Street King. The spot has her encountering the rapper in a gym, imploring him to “hit” her with a shot of the beverage. Did you two bond on set? we asked. Unsurprisingly, it seems that 50 was as captivated by the comedienne as the rest of New York. “They’re bling buddies now!” the translator explained. “He calls her 50 Shekels.” CLIOs 2013, here they come.