Inducting Joe Grimaldi Into the Ad Club's Hall of Fame


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Joe Grimaldi, Mullen CEO and my partner and friend of 32 years, gets inducted into Ad Club Hall of Fame in Boston. My induction presentation.

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  • So how do you honor a guy as wonderful, as accomplished, as giving as Joe Grimaldi.

    Well, we could make a movie. The story of Joe. Starring Joe Pesci. It would begin with our hero’s arrival on the Boston advertising scene 32 years ago.

    We’d open on a group of well-dressed executives standing in line waiting to have their picture taken on their first day of work at Hill, Holiday. One man, in a grey pin-stripe suit, yellow tie and matching pocket square, wearing perfectly polished Brooks Brothers loafers, note that even the tassels sparkle, turns to camera and extends his hand. He has thick black hair, a full moustache trimmed just above his upper lip and 1970s glasses, the frames as large as saucers. “Hi,” he introduces himself, “I’m Joe.”

    A title card comes on the screen and says Boston, 1981. We’d cut to Joe’s office on the 41st floor, a half eaten cheese steak sub shares a desk cluttered with media plans, mounted ads, the obligatory ashtray and telephone.

    Joe, the quintessential 1980’s account guy, has the phone to his ear, a cigarette between his lips, a cluster of French fries in one hand, and a well-sharpened pencil in the other. And the story, the journey from his arrival in Boston to this honor tonight, would commence.

    There would be scenes of Joe screaming up Route 1, weaving in and out of traffic toward a tiny unknown agency called Mullen, a glimpse of the John Hancock Tower fading from his rear view mirror. There’d be slow motion shots of Joe leading his rag tag team into new business battle against shops 10 times its size then giving the credit to those behind him when they won.

    There’d be special effects to recreate the dramatic fire that destroyed the growing agency’s building but not its character. Instead the fire will simply be a metaphor for Joe’s own burning desire to build something that truly lasts.

    There’d be victories and setbacks, tragedy and comedy, even dream sequences with Joe, standing in 20,000 square feet of raw space in an old building on Broad St. As the camera circles around him we see his vision of what the future Mullen could be.

    Tarantino would direct.

    (fake a phone call interruption, IPG rejects budget.)

    OK, maybe we should do an ad campaign.

    After all, Joe is a brand. And his behavior consistently delivers on the promises he makes and the expectations we have of him.

    Yes Joe Grimaldi the person belongs in the Hall of Fame. But Joe the brand belongs in the pantheon of great advertising.

    Since there is no one in advertising more honest we’d have an ad for his unwavering and absolute integrity. It is unrivaled.

    Another ad could celebrate his originality and rebellious spirit. Qualities that make him the CEO he is today.

    A third might acknowledge how wanted he is by both colleagues and clients. He makes everyone around him better.

    We’d certainly need one to emphasize his relentless and contagious optimism. It remains one of his most contagious qualities and can never fails to inspire.

    And finally an execution to represent his endless energy and recognize his remarkable longevity.

    You must admit the resemblance is uncanny.

    Then again, this is the age of social media. Where everyone gets to contribute. And given that there’s no shortage of people who would like to congratulate Joe and express their gratitude for all that he’s done for the community, the agency and many of us as individuals, maybe we should just have a hashtag.

    Hashtag Joe.

    I’ll be the first to post.

    But I do hope you’ll all join me on Twitter and Instagram tonight and congratulate Joe Grimaldi for this well-deserved honor. He is a legend. And we love him. Congratulations Joe.
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