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We knew the bride when she worked at FCB
Breaking: Coke goes with a long shot
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On The Web: Ted Demme, 1964-2002

Conan O'Brien Weds Former FCB Copywriter
Over the weekend, Late Night host Conan O'Brien and Liza Powel were married in a private ceremony in Seattle. Powel, invariably described as a "Seattle ad executive," actually hasn't worked in Seattle in years. After a stint as a copywriter at Elgin DDB/Seattle she joined FCB/New York, where she made senior copywriter and met her future husband. The two met during the making of a Late Night sketch in which a team of FCB creatives were asked to revamp the advertising for Hilton Furniture, a local advertiser in the Houston market. Who knew, back then, that the stunt would lead to wedding bells? Although Vonda LePage, then-director of communications at FCB, recalls that the connection between Powel and O'Brien was immediate, we were none the wiser. Witness this item from the April 2000 issue of Creativity:
Chainsaw of Fools
When Conan O'Brien wanted to help one of his show's local sponsors with a free "advertising makeover," he enlisted FCB/New York. The willing victim was Hilton Koch of Hilton Furniture in Houston, Texas, where O'Brien's show airs at two in the morning. Koch's homemade commercials provide almost as much entertainment as Conan does, albeit (probably) unintentionally. In his TV spots, Koch attacks his furniture with a roaring chainsaw, in an effort to convey that he's serious about "cutting furniture prices." This is typically accompanied by some pelvic thrusts and the enthusiastically shouted pay-off "That's a fact, Jack!" Hard to argue with that.

Regardless: the Conan team flew Koch to New York for a brainstorm with an FCB creative team who came up with a Madison Avenue-worthy alternative to Koch's happy atrocities. Their new and improved Hilton Furniture commercial shows slow-mo stock footage of Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Mia Hamm, followed by Koch wielding a mercifully silent chainsaw. The implication is that these heroes, clearly, are the masters of their field. Upon seeing the FCB spot, Conan, on-camera, enthusiastically turned to Koch and exclaimed, "My thought is, you don't hear the chainsaw in that ad, yet that's the loudest I've ever heard that chainsaw."

Koch was happy with the result, too, except that he doesn't get to air it. He can't use the spot because of the sky-high endorsement fees the famous athletes command. Art director Jennifer MacFarlane was sympathetic to the powertool-wielding Texan: "He was such a sweet genuine guy. It broke our hearts to show him this ad; he was so excited, but we couldn't let him use it. So we promised to make him a real one."

And what does the creative team think the future holds for Hilton Koch? Deadpans copywriter Liza Powel, "I think he's probably going to work on his chainsaw technique, so he can rise to the top of his art."

Shortly after the Late Night project, Powel joined several FCB execs at start-up Dirty Water Integrated, where she worked until leaving the business last year. To see a photo from the couple's big day, click here.

During the American Music Awards broadcast last week, Serious Pictures and composer Craig Snyder of Snyder Music, New York, for arranging the spot's festive beats.

At CAA as an agent. (For Creativity's guide to where Propaganda talent and staff are ending up, click here.)

On The Web
Director Ted Demme Creative Film Management, which has repped Demme for commercials since 1994.

Send tips, comments, and letters to the editor to online editor Jim Hanas.



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