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Awards Show For Advertising Excellence Dissolves Into Chaos

June 14, 1991

NEW YORK (AP) _ The caterer was pressed into service as co-host and ad executives snatched gold statuettes off a table when the presentation of Clio Awards for advertising excellence dissolved into chaos.

About 400 people showed up Thursday night for the awards show honoring the world’s best print and radio ads, a prelude to Monday’s scheduled Clio presentation for television commercials.

But the show was cut short after a series of mishaps.

Stephen Pieretti, who runs a food catering business hired for the show, said he suspected something was wrong when no one from the Clio organization was there when he arrived to set up food tables.

Before the night was over, Pieretti was pressed into service to co-host the presentation because the head of the Clio organization, Bill Evans, didn’t show up on time.

Steve Honig, president of Manhattan Center Studios where the show was held, said he, Pieretti, the band, projectionists and others hired for the evening ″made it fly as best we could.″

Pieretti said video materials needed to display the entries on a screen in the front of the hall and the list of winners arrived later than expected.

At about 8:30 p.m., a half-hour past the scheduled starting time, Pieretti said he was standing on stage when an Evans’ spokesman, Don Catterson, handed him a copy of the script and said ″you do the international awards, I’ll do domestic.″

Before he could reply, Pieretti said Catterson was introducing himself and the caterer to the crowd, saying there had been unexpected delays but they would do the best they could.

They stumbled through the presentation of print awards, which took about an hour, but announced they could go no further because they did not have a script for the radio ad and design categories.

″It was clear to people that this show wasn’t planned and it was an insult to people who had worked so hard to get ready for this,″ Honig said.

Pieretti said Evans appeared backstage at about that time but left without explanation.

Bob Waldner, a copywriter from the agency J. Walter Thompson who won a print Clio for a Bell Atlantic ad, said he figured the presenters were going to take a break as the hall lights went up.

But it was evident to others the show was over.

″Two people went up on the stage and took statuettes,″ Waldner said. ″Then two more followed them. Then there was a crowd of people going up and within a few minutes all the remaining statuettes were gone.″

Honig said there was no way to stop them. He said he figured more than 30 statuettes were snatched away.

The private Clio organization has handed out awards for more than 30 years but has reportedly been under financial pressure and lost some key employees. Evans failed to return two telephone calls Friday to discuss what happened.

Catterson said Monday’s show was still on. Pieretti said he was hired to provide food for 1,500 people, but won’t return to the stage.

″I’ll do the food, but then I pack up and leave,″ he said.

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