On Thursday, August 4, I was invited to attend a discussion with Chicago-based director and producer Joe Sedelmaier, one of Advertising Age’s “Top 100 People of the Century” at Energy BBDO. Joe is best recognized as the man behind some of TV's most well-known and honored commercials, including Wendy’s “Where's the Beef?” and FedEx’s “Fast Talking Man.”
Joe began his career as an ad agency creative in Chicago, where he also started producing and directing short films, including the award-winning “Mrofnoc” and “Because, That’s Why.” In 1967, he launched his own production studio where he developed international repute directing comical TV spots for clients including Alaska Airlines, Mr. Coffee, AAMCO, Avis, Tang, Wendy’s, and Federal Express. Joe’s idiosyncratic work created a unique genre of advertising featuring the most unlikely, one-of-a-kind non-actors.
Joe’s commercial work has been recognized by the Clio Awards, Cannes Lions, One Show, Chicago Film Festival, Art Directors of New York, Communication Arts, Britain’s D&AD, and Hollywood MBA. In 2000, Joe was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame. More recently, his film “Openminds” was an official selection in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival.
Joe’s work is iconic, dynamic, and instantly recognizable. Nearly 30 years later, people are still wondering, “Where's the beef?”