Director Joe Pytka to receive Lion of St.Mark award at Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions, Festivals

Cannes Lions will present the prestigious Lion of St. Mark award this year to director Joe Pytka, to honor and celebrate his long and outstanding contribution to creativity in the advertising and communications industry.

Director of some of the best and most well-known TV commercials, Joe Pytka’s prolific and accomplished work has had an enormous influence on TV advertising (…) Producing numerous award winning ads for many global brands, his creations have inspired and awed peers and audiences alike. It is with great honour and respect that we present Joe with the Lion of St. Mark for his outstanding contribution to the industry.

Terry Savage,

Chairman Lions Festivals.

Joe Pytka, Director of PYTKA, began his career working evenings at WRS Motion Pictures before running a post production department for MGM Telestudios, after which he created a number of documentaries and dramatic films for WQED. His first production company with partner Rift Fournier specialised in creating independent documentaries and occasional commercials. Disenchanted with the lack of formality of the pure documentary form, Pykta’s attention turned more to commercials. At the same time he experimented with early music video format in his documentary ‘Maggie’s Farm’ and ‘High Flying Bird’ a short film with Steve McQueen.

Pytka’s commercial career began to flourish leading him to work with legendary McCabe and Riney to produce award winning work, and after breaking with Fournier, form an association with Rick Levine before going out on his own.

His work with Riney included commercials for Blitz Weinhard Brewery, Gallo Winery’s Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers and Perrier. At this time Pytka began working with Phil Dusenberry, producing award winning ads for Pepsi, General Electric, DuPont and FedEx.

His work with Wieden + Kennedy for Nike has been called ground-breaking and he’s been called “a genius” for his IBM work with Steve Hayden. Pytka, the man behind many famous Super Bowl ads, has also become known for his work with celebrities including Madonna, Michael Jordan, Tom Hanks, Tiger Woods, Marlon Brando and President Obama to name a few.  He’s also made two films and created videos for The Beatles, John Lennon and Michael Jackson.

As well as multiple Lions, Pytka has been awarded with two Cannes Lions Film Grand Prix – “Archaeology” for Pepsi-Cola Company in 1985 and “Bill Heater” for John Hancock Financial Services in 1986; seven Palme d’Or awards – 1979, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995; and two Cannes 50th anniversary honorary Lions for best directing and best production.


Cannes Lions has always been the benchmark by which great work is measured and has been the centre of my professional life.  Vive Cannes Lions!

Joe Pytka,

Director PYTKA

Joe Pytka will be presented with the Lion of St. Mark in Cannes, France, on Saturday 21 June. Previous recipients of the accolade are Lee Clow (2013), Dan Wieden (2012) and Sir John Hegarty (2011). The Lion of St. Mark trophy is based upon the original Lions awarded at the Festival which were modelled on the lion statue in St. Mark’s Square in Venice, location of the first Festival in 1954 and alternating host city with Cannes before Cannes became the Festival’s permanent home in 1984.