A Tribute to Carol Brandwein

As many have heard, we recently lost a phenomenal human in Carol Eve Brandwein. Carol was part of the fabric that makes up our advertising community. When producer Susan Shaungnessey reached out and asked if I would use the blog as a place to celebrate her, I didn’t hesitate.  It felt right to use this space as a digital send-off, a celebration of Carol, a collection of stories, quotes, humor, camaraderie, and love from those that knew her. 

Jane Piampiano
Eulogy as read at Carol’s service

Hello, my name is Jane Piampiano, or “Pampy” as Carol would affectionately call me, and Carol Eve Brandwein was my dear friend and work partner at DDB New York for 30 years. Over the course of all those many years, we shared many life experiences and milestones, especially the myriad challenges of working in an ever-changing, demanding industry. 

Carol contributed so much color and joy to my life personally but also contributed to the success of DDB and the industry as a whole with her keen intellect and creative mind. An artist in her own right she had an unparalleled gift for elevating creative work by always seeking the very best artists and resources for the countless campaigns she worked on.  From her work on Seagrams brand liquors to various pharmaceutical campaigns and everything in between she showed her passion for the industry.

She was known for her smarts and her great sense of humor but most importantly for being fair and decent, kind and compassionate. She was respected and loved by her agency colleagues, as well as the many artists and representatives she worked with over the years. She had a curious mind and possessed an incredible breadth of knowledge not just about art but about pretty much everything. Who else could lecture you on the subtleties of “Parrish” blue in one minute and then predict Kelly Clarkson’s meteoric rise to stardom during the first season of “American Idol” in the next? 

She was my evil twin and trusted work partner who always selflessly championed my success at DDB, every year campaigning for me to win some sort of agency recognition. Unfortunately, her time at DDB was cut short through the inevitable downsizing of the agency but she persevered and went on to have a successful freelance career at agencies such as Link9, TBWA/Chiat Day, and Klick, to name a few. Lucky them. And lucky us. We were all very fortunate to have known Carol for the time we did.

She was a unique and special presence in our universe and she will be forever missed.

Jamie Stern
Eulogy as read at Carol’s service

In 2013 Jane Piampiano gave me my first freelance job and that is where I met Carol. I remember the day clearly.  Carol came out to reception to greet me. I had known Carol’s name, we had both been in the business for a long time, but our paths had never crossed until that day.

Carol was quirky, sweet, patient, smart, creative and wore a lot of bracelets. I never did figure out how she managed the keyboard with all that clanking going on. But she did. She was amazing!  She embraced technology and was good at it.  We learned a lot about each other and from each other. 

When Carol lost her job a few years later, our relationship really began.  We were both in the same boat and had a lot in common.  We both had lost our jobs after working in the business for a long time.  We were around the same age, both single, and understood how the loss was not just a job but a huge part of our daily lives.  It was like losing a family. 

We texted or spoke a little in the beginning and then more and more as we helped each other find work and deal with the day to day issues of freelancing. We had each other and there was an ease and special understanding that we had in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly of the advertising business and freelancing.

We met for dinner, we went to the movies, we went to museums and we talked a lot about work and about our lives. 

But mostly we could help each other, listen to each other with this understanding of being in the same place and time in life.  Freelancing is an emotional rollercoaster and being there for one another was such a gift. One I will never be able to replace. 

Thank you, Carol, for our special friendship.  I will miss you every day my fellow Klickster!

Marie Sawicki

I met Carol at Kenyon and Eckhardt in 1980. I was awed by her wit and intelligence and her sense of humor. She did an impersonation of the office manager that was perfect. She did such a good impersonation of this manager that she fooled other people. Over the years, whenever I heard her say “where’s the red chair?” I started to laugh. She always found humor in any given situation and when I think of Carol, I remember her laugh.

And her cooking! On Fire Island, when others were eating burgers and fries, Carol made tortellini with gorgonzola sauce and apple pie. She said her grandmother taught her how to make pie crust. “Don’t overwork the dough!” She had tea parties with the most delicate (and delicious) tea sandwiches and homemade scones with clotted cream and authentic English tea.

In the days before Google, Carol was the one I went to if I couldn’t remember who did what and when. She was a human-computer. She introduced me to parts of NYC that I never knew existed and I’m a native. Bookstores, boutiques, restaurants, movies, neighborhoods, artists, music – Carol was the high and low culture expert or self-professed culture vulture!

We met up again at DDB and worked together for 30 years until 2015. The last time I spoke with her, we spoke about our cats and about books and our book clubs. She told me I had to read the Elena Ferrante series and I trusted her judgment, so I bought the series. She was right. I loved the books.

I recently found a card she sent me, and she illustrated a starry night with the words from “Better Days” by the Kinks:

Here's wishing you the bluest
sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme
And the very best of choruses to
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on the way

This may be her message to us. Rest in peace and light, dear Carol.

Walter Smith

I first met Carol in 1990, where she questioned me about my work, my point of view, my experience. I would regularly show her my work, making use of her open-door to me. Eventually, Carol brought me in for a big print job with what was to be my first official directing project. She asked me questions relating to early work from conversations years ago, remembering every last bit. Carol was impressive. She was smart, calm, and had a great sense of humor. When she hired you, she trusted you – and that is everything.

Mitch Tepper & Olga Zeltser

Mitch: I met Carol five years ago and enjoyed working with her. She was very kind, with a warm smile, and always could make me laugh. I will miss her.

Olga: We are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and get to know Carol. She was a fun and tender-hearted, sardonically witty, eminently trustworthy woman who was a big part of our production family here at LINK9 for a long time. She is missed and in our thoughts.

Adrian Mueller

 I met Carol for the first time in 2004 when we worked together on our first project.  Carol and Jane Piampiano were a terrific duo at DDB and it was evident that they enjoyed the process. Over the last 15 years, we had many more encounters, on and off work and she became one of my most favorite people within the industry.  She was experienced and knowledgeable, kind and fair.  Even during hectic times, she never seemed to forget what was most important and her calm demeanor provided a steady compass for all to follow.  Our last shoot together was in 2017, a large production with lots of moving parts.  Despite that, it felt like a stress-free environment, thanks to her.  I will miss her and the humanity she brought to all our interactions. We love you, Carol!

Catherine Johnson

Carol was such a knowledgeable and excellent producer… a generous and wonderful collaborator. But what I will truly miss is her friendship. She was simply the most stellar friend. Always honest, kind, funny & thoughtful. When she asked the question, “how are you doing?” she actually cared to know. I saved this quote she texted me when I confessed on one of our text check-ins that I was having a rough day- she sent: “sometimes the most important thing in the whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”

Rest well, Dear Carol. You were loved and you will be missed by so many in a profound and awful way.

Heather Elder

Carol was one of the first art producers I presented portfolios to, way back when. I remember that first trip to NY like it was yesterday. I was nervous, of course, and had no idea what to expect. Carol was gracious, kind and made me feel at ease. We worked together and kept in touch over the years, especially once she went freelance our paths seemed to cross more. We shared a love for Healdsburg and I enjoyed hearing about a place that I love so much through her own stories. She was lovely, always smiling, and I appreciated our friendship very much. Our industry lost a very special person and I am so happy to have known her.

Carol was an ardent supporter of Bushwick Street Cats, who so kindly took in her cats, Chauncey and Pigeon.

Alternately, you can donate to WNYC, another favorite cause, on her behalf. 

Carol touched so many of us. I hope that by sharing people’s tributes, you will comment and leave your contribution to this memory party. 

4 thoughts on “A Tribute to Carol Brandwein

  1. So pleased to see this today! The pic of Carol standing with her bike up top was from a day last fall in Carrol Gardens. We met for a coffee to talk about the industry, life, photographers, art producers, where things were headed, and just a great catch up. I feel lucky to have had that time with her, as she was certainly one of the first art producers who became easy to talk numbers with, discuss approaches, and share honest back and forth about the industry. What a lovely tribute to a wonderful woman. Susan Shaughnessy

  2. Thank you for posting! There was no one like Carol. She could always track down what we needed to do our best work. We used to laugh ourselves silly over the edict to find a stock image like “52 year old menopausal woman, not too many wrinkles, slightly greying (or we’ll photoshop that) wearing khakis and crocs and holding a potted begonia with her (not-too-lush) garden and suburban house in the background.” Carol would find it. She was kind. And empathetic. I can’t believe she’s gone.

  3. It’s so wonderful to read the stories of my wonderful, unique sister and know how valued and respected she was in her community. I only wish she knew that, too, as she doubted herself and her talents too much. She was a true original.

  4. Reading this late at night and still struggling to believe it. Carol and I were not in each other’s lives a whole lot, but whenever we saw each other we went deep. We always chatted about the changing business we both used to be in- and thing is- she still had so much love for it- as much as I wanted to pivot, she wanted to stay- she was so passionate about what she did and we talked about it whenever we saw each other. She always represented the prototypical New Yorker you always admired- a great sense of humor, culturally so very aware, and effortlessly cool and smart. I wish we had more time together- I will never forget her sitting in my old backyard in Brooklyn, spending a sunny afternoon talking about life, change, and cats vs. dogs (she loved the kitties so). Carol- you were such an amazing woman and I miss seeing you out and about. I think of you often and may your family and friends find peace with this truly devastating loss. What a beautiful tribute here- thanks to all for sharing memories of this wonderful woman who we are all missing so much.

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