15 May 2011

The Lion of Venice Beach

Joe Pytka.

Few outside the ad business know the name.  Billions- yeah- billions know his work.

TV commercial director Joe Pytka has worked with the legends of pop culture and sport- most notably Michael Jordan.  Just as effectively with Maddox, Glavine & McGuire, from those halcyon pre-steroid-scandal days of Major League Baseball.

And just when you'd think Pytka is about hitching his star to major celebrity, he'll toss you this:

 Agents know their star athletes' stock goes up- waaaaaay up- when Pytka directs them.  He makes them look clever.  Funny.  Hip. So do the brands who pay the freight; Pepsi.  IBM. Hallmark. Hancock Insurance. And so often... Nike. 

Joe Pytka has directed features ("Space Jam" was based on Nike spots he created with Michael Jordan and Warner Bros. cartoon characters;  a Richard Dreyfus comedy called "Let is Ride" falls under "W" for "What were they thinking?")

But his masterworks are packaged as broadcast ads.  A possible exception being his oh-so-stylish work on the Beatles' semi-reunion video "Free As a Bird," with more quiet allusions, subtle inserts and Easter eggs than the Sg. Pepper album cover:

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. Mike -had no idea you were the brainchild behind Barkley Flakes.
    I can still remember listening every Sunday, my clock radio with the broken volume knob stuffed under my pillow to muffle the noise, while I myself used the top side to stifle my own laughter. You helped a shy, nervous kid learn the power in making people laugh, and changed my life for the better.
    Thank you!
    Please PLEASE tell me that there's a repository for these shows - I would give anything to hear them again!
    Karl Norton