Joe Pytka, the man behind thousands of other commercials including the Budweiser Clydesdale ads along with the “This is your brain on drugs” PSA, is set to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award for Distinguished Achievement in Television Direction from the DGA. The honor will be presented at the 68th annual DGA Awards on February 6 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.
Pytka has created more than 5,000 TV commercials, including 80-plus that aired during the Super Bowl, and is laden with awards including a Clio career honor. He did the popular Michael Jordan/Larry Bird McDonald’s ads, “Bo Knows” campaign for Nike and Ray Charles’ “Uh-Huh” spots for Pepsi. He also created Pepsi’s 1989 “Make a Wish” spot featuring Madonna, which was the first commercial to have a special global satellite premiere and was seen by an estimated 250 million people worldwide. His John Hancock Insurance commercials – which earned him a Cannes Grand Prix – were called breakthrough emotional advertising by judge and legendary advertising executive Stephen Frankfurt.
“Since the debut of television, commercials have played a critical role in shaping the trajectory of the medium. And when it comes to commercials, there is no higher bar than the one set by the incomparable Joe Pytka,” DGA President Paris Barclay said. “So many of his over 5,000 projects – which include more than 80 Super Bowl commercials – are part of the nation’s zeitgeist, from his iconic, generation-defining Pepsi ads to Nike’s ‘Bo Knows’ and Budweiser’s ‘Clydesdales’ to the unforgettable ‘Your Brain on Drugs’ PSA. For these reasons and so many more, we’re thrilled to present this top Guild honor to Joe.”