Dundalk grandmother chosen to appear in Old Bay ads
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 15:32

Rydzewski part of billboard and TV campaign

by Ben Boehl

    Old Bay Seasoning is produced by McCormick & Company in Maryland, and is highly popular in the Baltimore area.
    It was only a matter of time before McCormick would market the iconic seasoning with a commercial campaign featuring the very people who use Old Bay.
    The campaign asks the question, “What is inside a can of Old Bay?” For answers we are introduced to a dockworker from Locust Point, a hairdresser from Patterson Park and someone described in a voiceover as “a grandmother from Dundalk.”
    That grandmother is  Eastfield-Stanbrooke resident Marlene Rydzewski.
    “It is very exciting. I thought it was great that Old Bay wanted everyday people,” Rydzewski said.
    Her daughter Mary Wortman informed The Eagle that Rydzewski is also featured on a billboard for an Old Bay advertisement in Downtown Baltimore.
    “There are a few billboards, but she is most proud of the billboard on Russell Street right next to M&T Bank Stadium,” Wortman said.
    According to Rydzewski, the story of her being involved with the Old Bay ad is a “little bittersweet.” She was discovered by local photographer Sam Holden, who died suddenly of a heart attack at age 44 near the end of April.    
    Wortman said Holden was a friend of the family and had gotten a photography gig from Old Bay.
    “After he got the job, Old Bay said they wanted real people for their commercials and not actors. He was given a list to look for — a doctor, priest and other real people,” Wortman said.
    “When he needed a grandmother, he went to my mom and said she was ‘the perfect Baltimore grandmother.’”

Holden died on April 26; Rydzewski’s billboard debuted on May 26.
    “Sam was so excited. He  knew when the billboard was coming out and he wanted me to do a selfie with the billboard,” she said laughing.
    Rydzewski recalled that she was brought in for a photo shoot in Canton for the photo that went on the billboard.
    “I want to get together with some of my friends and take a bus tour to look at all the billboards,”  Rydzewski joked.        She explained that the billboard came first and then she and the others were later added to 30-second commercials.
    “I felt like a rock star. I had my own hairdresser. It was a wonderful experience,” Rydzewski said.
    Wortman said that she saw the same Old Bay advertisement outside the Baltimore market and said the national advertisement referred to her mother as the “World’s Best Grandmom.”
    “I haven’t seen [the regional or the national commericals] yet in person,” Rydzewski said. “I’ve only seen it on Facebook and YouTube.”