After hundreds of man hours and several near nervous breakdowns, the inaugural event of the “New’ Chicago Coalition finally turned out to be an indisputable success. An estimated 700-plus supporters turned out for “The Sounds of Chicago‘ last week to pay tribute to the Windy’s City’s ever-popular music producers.
Happily, the majority of the crowd (about 80 percent by one estimation) were from the event’s intended audience of agencies, and included leaders such as Norm Muse, chairman of the board and chief creative officer, Leo Burnett Co. Inc.
By 11 am the morning after, executive director Chuck Standen and assistant director Scott Lynch had already received about 30 congratulatory phone calls. Meanwhile, chief organizers Ted Kay, president of TMK-Elias Productions, and Murray Allen, president of Universal Recording, were breathing audible signs of relief and getting back to their own business affairs after dedicating countless hours of their own and their staff’s services to this mammoth undertaking.
Highlights of the evening included a medley of jingles from the “50s and “60s composed by Shelly Elias of TMK-Elias Productions at the eleventh hour and performed by 20 jingle singers. Plans to bing in some of the jingle singers from those eras were thwarted, and Elias worked until dawn two days prior to the event, lifting and weaving together advertising tunes from a collector’s album. Rehearsals continued until minutes before the doors opened Feb. 5.
The main event was an hour-long presentation featuring work by 18 Chicago commercial music producers and the commercials in which the jingles were used. The big difference was that attendees heard the music as it was originally mixed on a top-notch stereo system.
Coalition founder Sterling “Red’ Quinlan, who has been keeping a keen eye on what his successors have been doing with his baby, had nothing but praise for the big event.
“It was a class act all the way,’ he said.
Music houses of all sizes and stature submitted a three-minute sampling of their best work–and agencies waived their usual bans on public screening of their commercials, many of which were designated for other markets and quite current. Represented were: Advertunes, Colnut-Fryer, Comtrack, Joe Godfrey, Herschell Commercial, Klaff-Weinstein, Libman Music, Marier Music, Dick Marx, Nuance Productions, O-Donnell-Salvatori, Opus III, Renaissance, Steve Samler, Steve Sperry, Tatgenhorst Music, TMK-Elias Productions and Bobbv Whiteside.
?? was a group effort–a lot of people deserve a pat on ?? back,’ said Ted Kay. “It was fun, but I’m glad it’s over.’
“It was a monster project,’ added Murray Allen. “We had to remix and digitize, add time code and compile an enormous edit decision list. It took a lot to time.’
While numerous people donated their time and energy, special recognition should go to Kathy Bond, who worked closely with Kay on publicity and organization; to Editel, which donated the services of Mike “Opie’ Opager for three full nights; to Universal Recording for Jamie Chappel’s week of overtime while working on the mix and sync; and to ABC anchorman Floyd Kalber, who served as master of ceremonies.
Better Than “Break Even’
The week prior to the big day, event organizers were concerned–panicked might be an appropriate term– about low advance ticket sales. Tickets were sold for $25 each, and the Park West Ballroom has a capacity of 1,000. Although final counts weren’t in at press time, both Standen and former Coalition Executive Director Doyle Kaniff reported ticket sales at the door were stronger than expected, with total attendance estimated at 700-800.
“We did more than break even,’ Standen noted. “We were concerned about breaking even, but we ended up making a couple thousand, I think.’
Credit for coming up with the idea goes to Doyle Kaniff, who had intended to pull off the event prior to stepping down from his post and turning over the reins to Standen. However, Kaniff’s appointment as director of corporate development for Video Services Corp. in Los Angeles abbreviated his involvement, leaving other Coalition proponents to pick up the slack and bringing Standen on board ahead of schedule.
“The idea was based on organizing something that the whole community could rally around, something very positive,’ Kaniff said. “We needed a rallying point to get people together and stop the “them and us’ stuff–I think we’ve been successful in that.
“If they decided to do something like this next year, regardless of what it is, as long as it’s a positive thing, they’ll have an even better attendance,’ Kaniff predicts.
Chuck Standen certainly won’t be content to rest on the laurels of “The Sounds Of Chicago”s success. After only a few months, his “part-time,’ 50-hour-a-week position has involved a lot of hard work–but he’s quick to note he’s having a great time doing it. He noted plans are already in the works for “some biggies.’ But his–and Kaniff’s–first goal has already been accomplished. “The Coalition has been revived.’