Back in 1992, as the 100th employee of Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Harry Cocciolo had the opportunity to develop as a talent under two of the industry's superstars. This month, on his return to the renowned San Francisco shop, the creative buck will stop with him, at least on two of the agency's major accounts: SBC Communications and Discover Card.
"There are not that many jobs in the business you can get excited about," said Mr. Cocciolo, 38, who as creative director and associate partner will take up one of the key positions at the shop.
Jeff Goodby and Rich Silverstein have begun to anoint top-level creatives to shepherd specific accounts. Mr. Cocciolo's assignment is for two accounts at critical points in their relationship with the agency. Paul Venables, who previously handled SBC, has formed his own agency, Venables, Bell & Partners, and SBC recently handed a branding assignment to Omnicom's Merkley Newman Harty, New York. Discover Card, an account whose principal decision makers are based in Chicago, was most recently taken care of by two Goodby creatives who left for Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago. Mr. Cocciolo's mandate is to improve on the agency's creative output. "I've asked him to make the work better," Mr. Goodby said.
During his first stint at the agency, Mr. Cocciolo and his creative partner, Sean Ehringer, often picked up assignments eschewed by others. "The hand-me-downs ended up being great," Mr. Cocciolo said. One hand-me-down was for the California Milk Processors Board. The spot they developed featured a yuppie executive who is hit by a truck as he callously fires an employee. Finding himself in an all-white setting and presented with a generous serving of chocolate chip cookies, he assumes he's in heaven until he discovers the refrigerator is full of empty milk cartons. Because it hinged on the main character's violent death, the spot "almost died a thousand deaths," Mr. Cocciolo said, until Mr. Goodby himself agreed to direct it. Another spot developed under Mr. Cocciolo was for Polaroid, in which a harried executive, interrupted by a phone call from his lover during a meeting, tries to explain why he can't leave until she tells him to look at a provocative photo in his briefcase.
Mr. Cocciolo returns to Goodby, Silverstein following a stint at Leagas Delaney's San Francisco startup, which he left after a deal to sell the shop to a Canadian company dissipated.
The son of an Air Force officer who grew up around the world, Mr. Cocciolo learned a key element of advertising from Goodby's founders: "Assume what's best in your audience."
But his career success is not all he owes the agency. At an awards ceremony in New York , Goodby partner Robert Riccardi introduced him to an account executive the agency was courting, Patti Carr, who is now Mrs. Cocciolo and an account director on Goodby's Hewlett-Packard business.
Name: Harry Cocciolo
Now: Creative director, associate partner, Goodby, Silverstien & Partners
Challenge: To crack the SBC Communications and Discover Card accounts and to develop the next generation of creative.