Renowned Adman-Turned-Artist Phil Joanou Dies at 77

Former Dailey CEO Remembered for Anti-Drug Effort, Post-Retirement Painting Career

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A correction has been made in this story. See below for details.

NEW YORK ( -- Longtime agency executive, pro-bono pioneer and accomplished artist Phil Joanou died Nov. 20 from complications resulting from cancer. He was 77.

Phil Joanou
Phil Joanou
After earning his bachelor's degree in business from the University of Arizona in 1957, Mr. Joanou started his advertising career in the 1960s in Los Angeles, ascending the ranks at agencies such as Grey and DDB. He moved to Dailey & Associates in the early '70s and spent the rest of his career there. As CEO he helped grow Dailey to more than 300 employees, and worked with clients such as Nestle, Gallo Winery, Honda Motorcycles and Hilton Hotels.

Though Mr. Joanou also consulted successfully on political campaigns for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, many believe his legacy is his pro-bono work on the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, which he helped conceive in 1985, and which was the largest campaign of its kind ever attempted.

"As a business leader, Phil thought if advertising could be successful at selling products and ideas, it could 'unsell' drugs and drug use as well," said Tom Hedrick, founding member of the Partnership. Mr. Joanou remained active with for many years.

Mr. Joanou retired from Dailey in 1994 and enrolled at the New York Academy of Art, where he earned his master of fine arts degree. His work, described as a blend of allegory and figurative realism, was shown all over the U.S. and Europe.

Those who knew Mr. Joanou herald his bravery and creativity, regardless of his endeavors. "He presented passionate ideas with fearless conviction, whether it was to a CEO or the president of the United States," said Peter Dailey, the founder of Dailey & Associates. "He didn't back down to anyone, but he continued to hold their respect and admiration."

Mr. Joanou is survived by his wife of more than 50 years, Michelle, four children and 10 grandchildren. His son Phil is a well-known film director.

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CORRECTION: The quote from Peter Dailey was originally misattributed to Brian Morris, who succeeded Mr. Joanou as CEO at Dailey.

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