• Inducted in 2000
  • Advertising
  • Born May 31, 1933

Joe Sedelmaier

This business is strange. Take it seriously, do your damnedest to make your work intelligent and interesting, and you can be accused of devoting your life to a worthless pursuit. Treat it with little or no respect, as merely a means by which you earn your daily crust, and it can quickly become a sterile, often humiliating existence.

For most of us the choice would be simple: Do what you do to the highest possible standard and the spring in your step will be there when you walk home after another long day in advertising.

Few in this industry choose the first route. Many who do wilt then crumble under the pressure of mounting needs, or the pragmatism that can engulf people as they climb the ladder of success.

Joe Sedelmaier has always been deadly serious about commercials, which is surprising when you see his work because it’s all funny, often hilariously so.

Indeed his work is so distinct that his is the only identifiable style in television commercials. No one else has created a genre complete with its own repertory actors, favored lenses, and musical treatments. No other director has held such a particular point of view about what constitutes an ad. And no one else has so deliberately eschewed the gimmickry and fashionability of commercials-making in favor of that point of view.

And that is…? That life delivers the context for most products, and that the closer you stay to real situations using real people, not actors, the closer you get to making a spot that people can relate to.

Joe Sedelmaier is a craftsman in a world of salesmen. He believes that ideas evolve in the writing and in the making. Because of this he is on hand to assist, encourage, and inspire, right up to when the spot is piped to the stations.

Few people in our industry manage to achieve this, and often, when they do, they get a reputation for pig-headedness or high-handed arrogance. Maybe people feel that way about Joe Sedelmaier—people who haven’t worked with him, that is.

-Tim Delaney

Please note: Content of biography is presented here as it was published in 2000.