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updated: 11/30/2016 2:12 PM

Creative energy still garners awards for Highland Park resident

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  • Dennis Abelson of Highland Park, holds a dog from a shelter in 2014. He is the co-founder of Matrix Partners Ltd. in Chicago.

    Dennis Abelson of Highland Park, holds a dog from a shelter in 2014. He is the co-founder of Matrix Partners Ltd. in Chicago.
    COURTESY OF STEPHANIE KROL

  • Dennis Abelson

    Dennis Abelson

  • Matthew Wagner

    Matthew Wagner

  • Patrick Olechno

    Patrick Olechno

  • Patrick Reicher

    Patrick Reicher

  • Andrea Chiappetta, assistant finance director of the Wheaton Park District, holds the award earned by the district. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded the Wheaton Park District with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.

    Andrea Chiappetta, assistant finance director of the Wheaton Park District, holds the award earned by the district. The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada awarded the Wheaton Park District with a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
    COURTESY OF WHEATON PARK DISTRICT

 

Dennis Abelson of Highland Park has added another award to his collection: The Icon Award for overall work on behalf of the pet industry from Pet Age magazine.

While the award is coveted in the pet industry, Abelson has been known to work on behalf of many well-known industries throughout his career in marketing and advertising.

The co-founder and chief creative officer of Chicago-based Matrix Partners in Chicago, Abelson also was a copywriter at Leo Burnett Advertising and other firms, where he collaborated on national advertising campaigns for Kellogg's, Proctor & Gamble, Oldsmobile, Heinz, Nestle, KFC and many others.

"I wanted to be on the front lines, where I was doing less planning and more doing in the creative process," said Abelson, 64.

Abelson, who was born on Chicago's South Side, moved with his family to Indiana and South Carolina before moving to Glencoe to attend high school.

He earned his bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Washington University and a masters in advertising from Northwestern University.

He started with Leo Burnett after college in the 1970s and loved dealing with radio and TV commercials, including the Heinz ketchup commercial that showed a slow moving ketchup coming out of the bottle to the Carly Simon song, "Anticipation."

He also collaborated on the Kellogg's Sugar Smacks cereal commercial and its lovable frog, Dig 'Em. Other notable commercials came along, including for Schlitz Beer, Peter Pan peanut butter and other products.

Over the years, he's been honored for several campaigns, including the Addy Merit Award, McGraw Hill Professional Recognition Award, Chicago Financial Advertisers Eagle Awards, PetSmart Packaging Award, and the EFFIE Gold Award.

"The challenges were just so extraordinary," Abelson said. "You had to perform every day, there was never any resting on your laurels."

Through the 1980s, he also worked for other advertising and marketing firms until he decided to freelance.

By 1987, he partnered with Don Tomala, now of Orland Park, and they formed their own advertising and research firm, Matrix Partners. While they started with a variety of clients, they soon specialized in the pet industry, including high-end food products and related pet companies.

"Creating marketing campaigns is like making free-form music in the sense that you have to be disciplined but comfortable playing with words and images," Abelson said. "Sometimes all it takes is one serendipitous idea to bring a lackluster brand to life."

FastTracks

• Matthew L. Wagner, Patrick E. Reicher, and Patrick Olechno have recently joined the engineering staff at Raths, Raths & Johnson Inc., a national engineering, architecture, and forensics consulting firm. The firm has offices in Chicago and Willowbrook.

• Al Nietzel, chief financial officer of Hoffman Estates-based CDK Global Inc., will participate in the Nasdaq 35th Investor Program in London on Tuesday.

• Andrea Chiappetta, assistant finance director at Wheaton Park District, said the district earned a certificate of achievement for excellence in financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada.

• Marty Singer, chairman and CEO of Bloomingdale-based PCTEL Inc., will speak at the Imperial Capital's 13th annual Security Investor Conference on Dec. 8 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.

• Susan Abrams, CEO of Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center in Skokie, received a gold medal as Innovator of the Year and a silver medal as Executive of the Year from the Stevie Awards for Women in Business both in the category of Government or Nonprofit Organizations with up to 2,500 employees. The awards were recently announced at a gala at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York.

• There's more to business than just the bottom line. We want to tell you about the people who make business work. Send news about people in business to akukec@dailyherald.com. Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter.

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