News  |  Month: November 2023


It goes from Public Housing to the Metropolitan Opera House and from Washington Heights to the Heights of Washington.

In our film for Columbia’s 75th Annual Alexander Hamilton Award Dinner, the honoree—financier and philanthropist George Van Amson (CC’74)—tells us: “116th and Broadway is light years away from the Throgs Neck Projects.” And as the film dissolves to a shot of an elevated subway train heading for the distant land of Wall Street, the metaphor is clear. The real elevated train is the rarefied opportunity that is Columbia University. If anyone still needs proof that higher education is by far the best way of elevating individuals and society all at once, just listen to Mr. Van Amson’s story. Yes, he was given many opportunities. But the real drama of the story is that Van Amson is giving so much back. Admirers say that he is the best of all possible mentors. And what does he get in return?  Van Amson answers: “Well, I get everything from it. Everything.”

George Van Amson encapsulates his approach to philanthropy this way. “It’s easing the pain. And spreading the joy.” His work to combat community violence is easing the pain. His service as a trustee on the Met Opera board is spreading the joy.  There you have it. A life’s journey that started in public housing and ended up at The Metropolitan Opera House. By the end of our film, by all accounts, the gala attendees at the Hamilton Award Dinner were visibly moved.

A few weeks earlier, another New Yorker’s ascent was being chronicled. It was Henry Kissinger’s. He, too, made a dramatic life journey. His was from Washington Heights to the heights of Washington. Our film on Dr. Kissinger was being shown at the storied Al Smith Dinner at the Park Avenue Armory. Narrated by the brilliant speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, Peggy Noonan, the film spoke about the friendly political jousting that has gone on at the Al Smith Foundation Dinner for nearly 80 years. We aptly titled the piece: “Making Peace with Ourselves,” a phrase from a speech that Dr. Kissinger delivered at the same dinner more than fifty years ago. At this October’s event, Kissinger mustered the strength to speak again. As it turned out, the interview we at M+/ADLubow did with Henry Kissinger for the film was likely the last one he gave in his life. But that’s another story.


Why is ADWEEK calling Amazon’s “Joy Ride” holiday commercial an Instant Classic? For affirmation, all you have to know is that Sir Paul Macartney personally approved the licensing of his song “In My Life.”

But the brilliance of the spot goes far beyond that. Before we say why, let us first say how proud we are that AD Lubow alumna Tessa Pauly has been key to developing the cohesive brand strategy that encouraged Amazon’s International Cross Channel Marketing team to produce this masterpiece.

When we at AD Lubow first opened our doors, our objective was to create “ADVERTISING THAT MOVES PEOPLE.” We followed up more recently with the mantra: “SAY LESS. TELL MORE.”  And all along the way, we advised our team that “advertising shouldn’t look like advertising. It should be part and parcel of the client’s product.” We’re proud to say that so many of our wonderful alumni and our successor firm M+ are out there putting these ideas into practice. Tessa Pauly is a stellar example.

Tessa tells us: With JOY RIDE we’re aiming to create a lasting emotional connection with customers—one that we hope will increase mental availability for Amazon, which we know has a positive impact on the bottom line.”

That mental and emotional connection is certainly achieved by Amazon Creative Directors Josh Cassidy and Vince Feliciano. Look at all the storytelling they do in just 60-seconds without a single word. In less than a minute, you get the sense that the ladies in the spot have grown up and grown old together. And by the painful shrug of a shoulder, you see that old age isn’t always easy. By the end of the spot, however, all the discomfort of age is overridden by youthful joy. The spot is about as cheerful as it gets.

But here’s what sets the Amazon spot apart from so many other “feel good” holiday commercials, which often have little to do with the product. Beyond the joyful messaging here is a clear, pragmatic, unique selling proposition: the ability to order a product (and the resulting joy) with the touch of a button. It takes the lady in the spot barely a second to do it. And just like that, the product arrives.  How wonderful. This perfect creative execution goes way beyond “SAY LESS. TELL MORE.”  It’s more like: SAY LESS. SELL MORE. It’s ADVERTISING THAT MOVES PEOPLE…and PRODUCTS.