Two of his commercials were already in the Wisconsin Advertising Hall of Fame when Neil Casey was inducted.
It is symbolic of Neil himself: always putting the work in front of his own ego. It’s why his work was always finely crafted, powerful and moving. It’s why it wasn’t defined by category, considering the two Hall of Fame ads are for Wausau Insurance and Master Lock.
A lifelong Milwaukeean, Neil graduated Marquette’s Journalism School in 1965 and joined Cramer Krasselt as a copywriter in the late 60s. His impact on our industry was immediate. And the repercussions of his work went on for decades.
In 1971, he won his first CLIO for a TV spot marketing the state’s first ATM. In it, Neil cast a young William Christopher, who went on to play Father Mulcahy on the hit show M*A*S*H for the next 11 years.
One of his earliest TV spots for Usinger’s, featuring two old world sausage makers extolling their products in Germany, spawned years of “subtitled” commercials.
But it was his role as Creative Director and eventually Executive Vice-President and General Manager of CK’s Milwaukee office where he made the biggest impact. The people who worked for him would say that Neil always let the product dictate the work, not his own ideas. And that he used every emotion in his work, from humor, empathy and compassion to surprise, tension and fear. A talent that was recognized over and over by local, national and even international awards shows, ranging from the Effies, and Clios to Communication Arts and the New York Art Director’s Club.
His mentorship and amazing judge of creative talent was also evidenced by the number of writers and art directors who started at CK Milwaukee and went on to rewarding careers at top agencies like Fallon McElligott, Leo Burnett, J Walter Thompson and Goodby, Silverstein and Partners.
But most importantly, Neil didn’t let the work define him. He understood that to get the best advertising, you have to realize it is just that: advertising. It’s not life or death. It’s not the solution to world peace. It’s advertising. And with this perspective, he was able to take a step back and solve problems clearly, simply and creatively. It’s also why he had the respect of all those who worked with him and for him. He considers that his most important award.
The Wisconsin Advertising Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held every year at the United Adworkers Milwaukee 99 Awards Show. For details and to purchase tickets to the show on October 12, 2017, please visit Adworkers.com.